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Library of 
Emory University 

JUN 191953 

This space is lovingly set apart and dedicated to the memory of my beloved wife, 
Finette A., who for nine years, and till near the time of her decease, cheerfully and 
faithfully assisted and encouraged me while sick and working on this history. A. \v. i;. 







Historian 7\cc//7// Regiment Associatiot 


Ira C Kvax>. Phinti.i:, 12 SniooL Stkkkt. 


To the Brave Boys of the 

£<Ka QJofume is 




In giving this history to the public, the author has the satisfaction of 
knowing that with all its errors and imperfections he has tried to be both 
truthful and impartial. 

He knows also, from experience, that to write what is readable is one 
thing, but quite another to write that which is reliable : and that when 
truth and justice are allowed, as thev always should be, to guide and 
dictate, the task of the historian is difficult and laborious. 

It is hoped, therefore, that those who see much to criticise and little 
to praise, as doubtless many will, may exercise sufficient charity to 
believe, that if the work has been but poorly or partially done, it is 
because the weight was too heavy for the power, and not from any want 
of purpose or lack of effort. Believing, moreover, that merit and not 
rank nor riches deserves our praise, and that he who fought with the 
musket was -just as good as he who commanded with the sword, it was 
decided at the outset that in this history, at least, if no where else, they 
should in every respect, so far as possible, stand upon the same level. 

For this reason we have refused costly steel engravings of some who 
could afford it. because there were many others equally meritorious who 
could not afford it : hence governors, generals, and colonels, appear on the 
following pages dressed in a pictorial garb of the same cast, style, and 
finish, as the corporal and private. If there was " favoritism" in the 
i"m v. as we cannot deny, it was because officers were unworthy of their 
trust, and is only an additional reason why none of it should be allowed 
in the history of anv regiment, that justice at last may be clone to the 
rank and file. 

The biographical sketches, though necessarily brief, will be found to 
embody the most important data in the family and war record, and are, 
so far as possible, arranged with the portrait engravings, that the reader 
has the soldier and his record before him, so that he can scan the one 
and read the other at the same time. 

We have endeavored, as far as possible, to obtain the picture of every 
member of the regiment, and if many do not appear in this work it is 
because of no fault of the author In his efforts to do full justice to his 
fellow-comrades, he has ofttimes been discouraged at the magnitude of 
the undertaking, and the careful research necessary to a faithful execu- 
tion of this trust. He sincerely regrets that ill health, coupled with other 
embarrassing conditions, has in a great measure crippled his best efforts 
and long delayed the publication of this book. 

The author, in conclusion, wishes especially to express his most sincere 
thanks and gratefully acknowledged obligations to the committee, and 
especially to Capt. E. F Gordon, with whose special assistance he has 
been aided in bringing this volume to its final close. He also extends his 
kindest thanks to all those who have in any way helped him in his work. 





Enlistment of the different companies, page 7; controversy between Governor Berry and Colonel 
AVhipple, 9; Colonel Whipple's address, 13; first man killed, 15; Potter appointed colonel, 15; state 
aid, allotment, etc., 17 ; bounties, 19 ; verdant volunteers, 19 ; Camp Belknap, 2u. 



Cooper's volunteer refreshment saloon, page 24; strange death of Darius Robinson, 25; royal banquet 
at Washington with greasy coffee, 26; Arlington Heights, Camp Chase, 27; change of muskets, 28; 
en route to Knoxville by rail, 29; camp stories, 31 ; on sacred soil, 32; march southward, 33; Star- 
vation Hollow, 33; sheepish business, 34; camp near Falmouth, 35; McClellan removed, Burnside 
appointed, 35; thanksgiving address, 37. 



General Burnside assumes command of the army, page 38; move on Fredericksburg, 39; first shelling, 
41; perilous passage through the city, 43; incidents of the great battle, 44; flapjacks and honey, 
46; Companies (' and F's narrow escape, 49. 


Foreign intervention talked of, page 53; visit of .Tohn P. Hale, 53; mud march, 54; Hooker succeeds 
Burnside, 56; desertions, 57; president's proclamation of pardon, 58; Governor Berry's letter, 60; 
Bowman's address. 61; the Twelfth appear in new suits, 61; Abraham Lincoln visits Army of the 
Potomac, 62; grand review, 62; Twelfth complimented by the president, 62; Colonel Potter pre- 
sented with horse, saddle, and bridle, 62 ; Colonel Potter's short and touching speech, 63. 



Forecast of the battle, page 64; fighting Joe Hooker, 65; intense enthusiasm, 65; the initiatory move- 
ment, 66; General Hooker's famous congratulatory circular, 67; price of clothing marked down, 
68; Captain Durgin's sermon, 70; Chancellor house, 70; puzzling movement of the enemy, 71 ; the 
flank movement of General Jackson, 72; the Eleventh Corps swept from its position, 73; Com- 
panies F and G extricated from peril, 73; Hazel grove, 74; General Sickles' peril, 75; midnight 
charge, 75; Chancellor house or Fairview, 76; the order of battle, 77; "Forward Twelfth," 80; 
battle rages, 82; General Hooker wounded, 87. 



Lastwordsof General Whipple, page 91 ; back to the old camp, 92; Chaplain Ambrose reported killed, 93; 
Jackson's death, 94; Chaplain Ambrose arrives in camp, 94; petition to Governor Berry, 94; Col- 
onel Hall's letter, 96; official reports of the battle, 97; General Sickles' testimony, 104; Chancellor 
estate, 104; Jackson monument, 107; afterthoughts of Chancellorsville, 108. 

II C/iuptcr Index 


rch to Hartwood church, page 113; Gum Springs, 115: tow path march, 116; General Hooker super- 
ceded by General Meade, 118; Twelfth in line of battle near Emnritsburg road, 120; battle opened, 
121 ; remarks of General Sickles, 122 ; Wright's and Barksdale's brigade crowding hard, 124 ; Twelfth 
New Hampshire open fire, 124; hurled into the vortex of battle, 125; but a remnant left, 126; 
Colonel Bachelder's remarks concerning the Twelfth New Hampshire, 127; Pickett's charge, 132; 
Lee's retreat, 138; Meade's mistake, 139; Lincoln disappointed, 139; Captain Musgrove's report of 
Wapping Heights, 141; Lee's army at bay at Wapping Heights, 141; Twelfth engaged at Wapping 
Heights, Twelfth on to Washington, 142: only a remnant, 143; sixty-nine guns in stack, 143; 
a midnight attack, 144. 



rage to Point Lookout, page 146; bon-fire of old clothes, 146; terrible persecutions and exodus of the 
"gray backs," 146; thousands slain by flank movement, 146; "dirty dozen " wash up, 14G; guarding 
prisoners, 147; " Galvanized Yanks," 148; unique church organization, 150; excommunicated, 151;. 
joined by the Fifth, 151; substitutes, 152; tribute to the "subs," 153; "sub" killed, 154; incorrigible 
"subs,'' 155; Second, Fifth, and Twelfth enjoy thanksgiving dinner, 157; "subs" and "rebs" con- 
tinue to arrive, 157; raid into Virginia, 158; home to vote, 159; famous battle with snowballs, 161; 
inspection by General Butler, 161; contraband camp, 164; affecting incident, 165; Father Wil- 
loughby, 166. 



?ing the enemy again, page 169; rendezvous at Williamsburg, 169; the Twelfth joins the Eighteenth 
Army Corps, 109; execution of two deserters, 170; up the James river, 171; Army of the James 
on transports, 172; City Point and Bermuda Hundred, 172; Butler holds the key, 173; facing Peters- 
burg, 175; heavy skirmishing, 176; General Butler misled, 176; toward Lempster Hill, 177; on to 
Richmond, 178; Relay House, 179; lull before the storm, 181. 


legraph wire, page 182 ; rebel charge, 183 ; Heckman captured, 184 ; Colonel Barker's letters on Drury's 
Bluff, 185; army fall back, 185; Lieutenant Clark's diagram, 186; Butler criticized and exonerated, 
188; opinion of various generals, 190; Port Walthall, 195. 



board transports, page 198; incidents of the voyage, 199; White House landing, 199; exhausting 
march to Cold Harbor, 200 ; at Cold Harbor, 201 ; charge bayonet, 202; terrible slaughter, 20: > ; Lieu- 
tenant Clark's diagram of field, 204: description of battle by George. E. Place, 206; after scenes, 
208; field covered by our dead, 209 : drawing off the wounded, 212; removing and burying dead, 
213; skillful sharpshooter, 214; comments of Lieutenant-Colonel Murray, 215; interesting incident, 
215; back to the White House landing, 210; loaded with lead, 216; at Petersburg again, 217. 


irmishing towards Petersburg, page 220; enemy's shells, 221 ; charge on the rebel works, 222; drum- 
mer boy's last message, 222; Chaplain Ambrose, wounded, 224; Petersburg express, 224; continuous 
firing, 225: National Fast Day commemorated with bullets instead of pulpits, 225; Colonel Stead- 
man breathes bis last, 225; swapping minies, 226; explosion at City Point, 220 ; "Who wouldn't be 
a soldier," 227: Chaplain Ambrose's death, 229; the "mine," 229; the failure, 231 ; comments, 234. 



pleted ranks, page 2X; friendly relations, 237; winter quarters, 238; " delusive dream "-march, 239; 
cross the river, 241 ; Lieutenant-Colonel Barker, 242; send Twelfth at once, 243; shotted salutes, 244; 
amusing incident, 245; national election, 240 ; attack on picket line, 218; many captured, 248; escape 
of Sergeant Bachelor ami Thompson, 252; assigned to Twenty-fourth Army Corps, 253; t'hapin's 
Farm, 254; Dutch Gap, 255; General Butler relieved, 256; Colonel Potter goes on staff of General 
Gibbon, 257; flattering order, 259: Joseph Sharp the deserter, 202; Confederacy crumbling, 263; 
transparent Confederacy, 204; rebel attack on Fort Steadman, 265; repulse, 265. 

Chapter Judex. ix 


" If it takes all summer," page 267; assault ordered on enemy's works, 268; no enemy but clear route 
to Richmond, 269: "on to Richmond " is the cry, 270; royal welcome by colored citizens, 271; city 
burning-, 270: president's visit, 272 ; prisoners liberated, 273; Union army jubilant, 273; lengthy 
comments on evacuation and occupation, 274-289; Libby prison, 291; Nero, 292; joyful news, Lee's 
army surrenders. 293. 



Terrible news — Lincoln assassinated, page 294; Captain Bedee present, 295; correspondence between 
General Hardie, Secretary of War, and Captain Bedee, 298 : the Twelfth moves to Danville, Va., 300; 
Colonel Barker, by general order, assumes command of Post, 301 ; administering the oaths and 
feeding the people, 301; widespread destitution, 306; welcome order from secretary of war for 
muster out, 308 : testimonial to Twelfth New Hampshire Regiment by the citizens, 312; on board 
steamer for home. 313: in the cradle of liberty at the "hub." 315; on to New Hampshire, 315; the 
Granite State welcomes home her veteran soldiers, 315; from Nashua to Concord a continual ova- 
tion, 315; last casualty in the regiment, 316; General Devens' eulogistic letter, 317; Camp Gilmore, 
318; Colonel Barker's farewell address, 319; paid off, 319. 



Dedication of monument, page 321 ; dedicatory poem, 323; dedicatory address, 325; presentation address, 
330; reunions, 331 ; Woodbury Sanborn's memorial stone, 337; presentiments and visions, 340; the 
"boys." 354: rank and rile, 359: heroism and terrorism, 364; the light of experience, 368; "Old Tom," 
369; a box from home, 370; drum corps, 371 ; history of the colors, 374; signal service, 380; the Union 
volunteer, 387; chances and changes of war, 389. 


Loading up, page 391; how he was mustered in, 393; the awkward squad, 394; his last inspection, 
395; "Halt," 396; slightly previous, 397; set him up in the boot and shoe business, 397; adding 
insult to injury, 397: chickens for breakfast, 398; the peddler — a spy, 399; who stole the colonel's 
beans'.' 399 ; a narrow escape or fifty miles' tramp within the enemy's lines, 400; the bitter with the 
sweet, 400; " Camp Corporal," 401; "tail end tu,"402; good eaters but poor fighters, 403 ; rabbits and 
bloodhounds, 404; a new general, 404; long roll, 404; incidents of Fredericksburg, 405; a frightful 
leap, 406; too big for his clothes, 406; cold water joke, 407; influence of the moon, 407; incidents of 
Chancel lorsville, 408, 409; Shakespeare on the battle-line, 410; wanted more juice, 411; "No, I thank 
you," 411 ; " this is military," 412 ; a sharp reminder, 412 : good pluck, 413 ; the grumbler, 414 ; distance 
across the river, 414 ; "a pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck," 415 ; the cherry picker, 415 ; incident 
at Gettysburg, 416; diplomatic, 416; what he was there for, 417; doughnuts, 417; April fool pies, 418; 
Point Lookout, 418; pointed answer,419; snowball battle, 420; her prayer answered, 420; the shaver 
shaved, 421 ; how to do it, 422 : "what are you dodging at," 422 ; South Carolina versus Massachusetts, 
423; Christian patriotism, 423; didn't catch it, 424; "little too close," 425; almost a prisoner, 425; 
appearances are deceitful, 426; "a slight clip" of dry wit, 427; "two horses and a nigger," 428; 
"another can of strawberries," 428; picked up the wrong chap, 428; his ordnance return, 429; a 
timely protest, 429; "got my bait with me," 429; "two balls and a ramrod," 430; foraging between 
the lines, 430 ; "aright-eyed squint," 431; duty and danger, 432; the death of poor Clipper, 433; sig- 
nal confab with General Butler, 433; "What's in a name?" 434; one shot was enough, 435; 
braver to send than receive, 436; that stump, 437; how he saved his money and his life, 438; all the 
same, 439; in rebel prisons, 440; the history of a five-cent piece, 440; what he had come for, 441; 
why it wouldn't draw, 442; a story of the picket line, 443; a soldier's prayer, 445; didn't wait for 
another, 445 ; concluded to try him, 445 ; saved his head, 447 ; his last game of cards, 447 ; how he got 
out of it, 447; General Weitzel to Dr. Fowler, 450; still patriotic, 450; they troubled his dreams, 
450; "three hundred dollars and a cow," 451; quicker lost than found, 454; Abraham Lincoln's 
greatness, 454; married her "just the same," 455; whiskey, 457; "Boney,"458; "couldn't play 
with knapsacks on," 459; Libby, and how we got out of it, 460. 



Field and staff, pages 476-484 ; Company A, 485-508 ; Company B, 508-541 ; Company C, 541-569 ; Company 
D, 569-600 ; Company E, 600-622. 

x Chapter Index 



Company F, 622-650; Company G, 650-676: Company H, 676-696; Company I, 696-717 ; Company K, 717-739; 
sketches of Winsor P. Huntress, George H. Fowler, and Woodbury Sanliorn, 740; unknown, 742. 


Roll of Honor, 743-745; list of wounded by companies and battles, 746; comparative table of loss in New 
Hampshire regiments, 747; table of greatest loss by any New Hampshire regiment in its two largest 
battles, 748; " New Hampshire Mountaineers," 749; addenda and errata, 750; abbreviations, 751,752; 
roster, following page 753. 



The Chancellor House . . . . 

. Opposite page 


A Johnny lieb ...... 



The Twelfth Regiment Monument at (Gettysburg 



Woodbury Sanborn Memorial Stone 



Regimental Colors 



The Cobb Hill Signal Tower 

u u 


Portraits of Field and Staff 

Pages 47b\ 


Portraits by Companies 

" 4S7- 


Portraits of Huntress, Fowler, and Sanborn 



Portraits of unknown 




( J'SHE terrible storm which was to test the permanency of our republican 
-I form of government, and show to the world how deeply rooted is the 
tree of liberty in its native soil, had, after often repeated, but long 
unheeded warnings, broke in all its force and fury upon us ; and the 
final struggle for supremacy between freedom and slavery, no longer to 
be put off by concession or compromise, had at last come. 

The Union forces of the West had swept every thing before them from 
Missouri's northern border to Nashville, Tennessee, while the main army 
around Washington, after its valuable lesson at Bull Run, had so 
increased in numbers and improved in discipline that it only seemed 
necessary for the "Young Napoleon" — as McClellan was then called by 
some of his admirers — to give the command and Richmond was ours. 

So confident was the public mind of the North, that when the next 
"on to Richmond" was sounded at the head of the great, grand army of 
the Potomac, already impatient to be led forward, that it would march 
swiftly into the Confederate capital and to final victory, that Henry Wil- 
son stated upon the floor of the Senate chamber that he believed the 
rebellion was virtually suppressed, and orders were issued from the War 
Department that no more volunteers would be received, as the troops 
already enrolled were sufficient to overcome all armed resistance to the 
legal authority of the Government. 

But another sad lesson of disastrous experience for the Nation had yet 
to be learned. 

To capture the rebel capital and defend our own, at the same time, 
was a greater task for the military power in the field than had been antic- 
ipated ; and the want of more troops soon demanded serious attention in 
the defeat of McClellan upon the peninsula, and the retreat of what 
remained of his once powerful army to the cover of our gun-boats at 
Harrison's Landing 

It was now evident that the " irrepressible conflict," so long feared, had 
indeed commenced ; and that the end could only be reached through 
years of, hitherto, uncounted sacrifice. 

2 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

The first great mistake of the Government, in refusing to accept of 
more volunteers, instead of making the stupendous preparation so wisely 
advised by Stephen A. Douglas by allowing the recruiting offices to 
remain open, and mobilizing the voluntary accessions to the army, as 
rapidly as possible, was now only too apparent. 

With fifty thousand fresh troops to have reinforced McClellan in front 
of Richmond, or to have taken the place of those withheld from him for 
the protection of Washington, nearly three years of carnage and 
desolation would probably have been averted. 

But recruits and not regrets were now demanded by the exigency of 
the hour, and from the undiscouraged and still more determined patriots 
of the loyal states, upon every breeze from mountain-side, hill-top and 
valley, from the cities of the East and the prairies of the West, from the 
office, the work-shop, and the farm, came the ready, hearty, and enthusi- 
astic response to the President's proclamation : 

"We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more." 

Close following this call and led by the indomitable Jackson came the 
advance of Lee's victorious legions in his first great raid into the North, 
defeating in detail the disconnected fragments of Pope's Army, and 
finally driving it back inside the fortifications of Washington. 

It was the midnight hour of the Nation's trial and conflict, and the sen- 
tinels, on her watch-towers of freedom, looked vainly into the surround- 
ing darkness for a single sign of coming day- 

Although the situation was critical and the demand urgent, relief was 
coming from the Atlantic to the Pacific ; and trembling fear at once 
changed to rugged resolution when, from the ready supply, it was no 
longer doubtful to the administration at Washington, that the loyal North 
intended to stand b}* and support their chosen leader, — whose great mind 
and heart thought and beat only for his country, — and that the patriotism 
of the people was again aroused and equal to any emergency 

It was at this time and under this call, which Congress had authorized 
President Lincoln to make, for the immediate enlistment of three hundred 
thousand more troops to serve for three years or the war, while rebel bay- 
onets again threatened the National Capitol, and when England and 
France were almost ready to announce their recognition of the Southern 
Confederacy, that the Twelfth regiment of New Hampshire volunteers 
was raised and organized. 

It was, indeed, a call for help in the hour of the Nation's most direful 
need ; and those who answered it, coming as they did from the best class 
of American citizenship, had everything but personal honor to lose, and 
nothing but a soldier's grave to gain. 

Those who enlisted under this call came from the great, middle-class 
body of the people which in every country constitutes the grand, reserve 
power of a nation. 

A'czi' Hampshire Volunteers. 3 

They belonged, largely, to the more reliable, self-dependent and con- 
servative element of societv : who. havino- more to lose, hesitate longer 
to act, and carefully count the cost before they entra^e in any under- 
taking that is to hazard the well being and future happiness of those 
dependent upon them for counsel, comfort, and support. 

Again it may be truly said, that the volunteers of '62, who enlisted 
before the large town bounties were o tiered, had. as a rule, not only more 
to sacrifice . but much less to encourage them, than those who enlisted at 
a much earler or later period of the war 

Though no more, perhaps, to be praised or honored than they who 
went forth in defence of their country at her first call for assistance, yet 
they enlisted with no foolish belief that sixty or ninetv days would end 
the conflict : but entered the lists " for three years or the war," when it 
was evident that two or three years longer, instead of as many months 
from the beginning, were necessary for the Government to crush out, if 
it ever could, a rebellion so great and powerful that its armies had been 
successlul on almost every important battlefield, and which then, as never 
before, threatened our political existence. 

The first call of April 15, 1S01. tor seventy-five thousand men to serve 
lor only three months, while congress bv the same proclamation was not 
convened until nearly three months later, shows how little even Lincoln 
himself, with all his constitutional advisers, understood either the purpose 
or the power of the seceeding states; and those who so quickly and 
nobly responded to that call, sharing in the general belief that there was 
" more scare than bear " in the threatening attitude of the South, and 
that the war would begin and end in South Carolina, rushed with light 
hearts, as well as swift feet and ready hands, to the rescue. 

And this was true, only in a less degree, of those who enlisted under 
subsequent calls, but before Gen. McClellan led his marshalled legions 
of the Xorth against the Sevastopol of the Rebellion. 

But when, a few months later, congress authorized the raising and 
equipping of half a million more men as necessary to reinforce our armies 
in the field, while McClellan lay supinely on the bank of the James, pro- 
tected from capture onlv by the good service of our iron-clad gun-boats 
and monitors, and Pope, with " headquarters in the saddle," was fighting 
night and day to keep the rebel general Jackson from marching his 
troops down Pennsylvania Avenue, there was a far different shading to 
the picture, and " war's grim-visaged front " appeared in all its horrors, 
as a present, actual, and tangible reality - 

It is not claimed, however, that every one who enlisted at this or any 
other time during the war was a hero, a patriot, or even a man, in the 
true and honorable sense of the word ; for the future conduct of many 
was proof, conclusive, that a soldier's grave was one of the few safe 
places they never expected or intended to fill, unless it should be dug in 
Canada or elsewhere, many miles from, or many years after the war. 

4 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

But it is claimed, and the author of the following poor tribute to their 
memory does here affirm (inconsiderate fools, stay-at-home cowards, and 
contemptible copper-heads to the contrary notwithstanding) , that a great 
majority of all the Union volunteers, under whatever call or from what- 
ever section they enlisted, did so actuated by high, honorable, and patri- 
otic motives, differing, of course, in quality and degree, according to per- 
sons, times and circumstances. 


The Twelfth Regiment has a history of more than general interest, even 
from its very beginning as a military organization. 

When, on the second day of July, 1862, the call for three hundred 
thousand more men, to serve for three years or the war, was made, it was 
supposed that many of those recruits, especially the first enlisting, would 
be used to rill up the decimated ranks of the regiments already in the field. 

With this impression, Col. George W Stevens, of Laconia, foreseeing 
the great inducement and many advantages for men and boys, who had 
lived and been brought up together as neighbors and acquaintances, to 
enlist and serve together, not only as members of the same regiment, but 
comrades and tent-mates of the same company, wisely conceived the idea 
of raising a regiment in Belknap county and bordering towns ; the com- 
panies to be enlisted, as nearly full as possible, from the different centre- 
sections of tlie population. 

This plan being readily acceded to by Col. Thomas J. Whipple and 
other leading men of the county, to whom it was submitted, it was de- 
cided, in order to successfully inaugurate the idea and awaken the public 
mind to a clear sense of the necessity as well as the duty of the hour, to 
call and hold a grand war meeting at the North Church, in Laconia. 

The meeting was advertised for the evening of Friday, July 25, 1862 ; 
and long before sunset, teams were coming in from every direction ; and 
when, at half-past seven, it was called to order by W N. Blair, Esq., the 
house was crowded — many being unable to get in — with men and women 
from almost every town in the county. Col. Charles Lane presided, and 
after a fervent prayer by Dr. Young, speeches were made by Gov. Berry, 
who had been invited, Col. Peter Sanborn, Hon. Larkin D. Mason, Cols. 
Stevens and Whipple, W N Blair, Esq., Hon. Warren Lovell, Dr Nahum 
Wight, and others, all earnestly eloquent and patriotic, and received with 
that responsive enthusiasm that left no doubt but one or two regiments 
could be raised in Belknap county alone, if found necessary. 

Col. Lane, upon taking the chair, said : 

Gentlemen : We have met this evening to consider our duty to our 
country, now in a condition that we never expected, in our day, to realize 
or behold. 

Strength and wisdom are required to carry us through this dreadful trial 
of civil war, and we are ready to ask counsel of our ablest men. 

6 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

We have heard that our President is an honest man and we trust that 
he is ; but one thing we are certain of, for many of us are personally 
acquainted with our Governor and know him to be honest and honorable. 
He will explain the situation to us this evening. 

Gov- Berry was received with approbation, and listened to as one upon 
whose words of advice and promise they could safely act and rely- He 
spoke at considerable length of the critical situation of the countrv, the 
depleted condition of our armies in the field, and the absolute necessity of 
supplying this want, by an immediate and patriotic response to the call 
that had just been made, by the President, for three hundred thousand 
more volunteers to assist in maintaining the laws of the land and saving 
our free institutions for generations to come. He believed that while our 
only hope was in the patriotism of the people, that hope would not fail us, 
but carry us triumphantly onward over every obstacle, and through every 
trial to a final victory 

Col. Whipple was next called upon and was greeted with enthusiastic 
cheers. He spoke substantially as follows : 

My Friends I want you to appreciate if you can the magnitude of 
this crisis. We have just been called upon for three hundred thousand 
men and a thousand millions of treasure, but the end is not yet. It is to 
be followed by more men and more money, and when the last man and 
the last dollar has fallen and been expended, that dear and glorious old 
flag (pointing to the stars and stripes) has been preserved at a cheap price. 
I should be ashamed to survive this contest. I ask no higher glory than 
the privilege to add my name to the long list of heroes who shall give 
their lives for their country in this great struggle for the Union and the 
Constitution. If I address a man here to-night who would even dodge a 
bullet that could not find its way against this hell-born rebellion, but 
through his own heart, he is a coward and does not deserve the protection 
of the old flag. The hour demands the sacrifice, and who shall be base 
enough to withhold? 

As for one, I now offer my life, my property, my all, to the support and 
preservation of our common country 

Peter Sanborn, state treasurer, was now introduced, but his naturally 
excitable temperament had been so charged by the electric eloquence of 
the last speaker, that his tongue, trying to vibrate in unison with his emo- 
tions, was too rapid for anything but a phonograph, which not being then 
invented, no record of his speech, not even from memory, remains. It 
was an impassioned effusion, characteristic of the man, whose whole heart 
was in the cause ; but, to use the words of one who listened, "served bet- 
ter as a relish to the other proceedings, than as a set dish in the regular 
course.*' He closed his appeal by offering ten dollars each to the first ten 
men who would enlist, giving and advising them to take time to consider 
and counsel with their parents, wives and sweethearts, if thev had anv, 
before deciding. A day or two after several accepted the offer, and en- 
listed as soon as the enlisting papers were ready for them to sign. 

^V<Ti' Hampshire Volunteers. 7 

Larkin D. Mason, of Tamworth, who was afterward state agent to look 
after the sick and wounded at the front, and thus instrumental in saving 
many lives, was another of the leading speakers. He was an ardent sup- 
porter of the Administration, and when Lincoln was nominated at Chicago, 
said that he believed "that the convention must have been inspired." On 
this occasion he said that he stood at the head of one of the largest families 
in the state ; but he would rather sacrifice every other child by lot, and let 
the remaining ones have the benefit of the dear old flag, than to have them 
all survive with no stars and stripes to protect them. He thought 
Abraham Lincoln was called to the most critical position ever occupied 
since Washington, and that their relative positions were well described by 
the poet : 

" 'T was great to speak a world from naught, 
But greater to redeem." 

Washington brought from chaos the first successful republic, but oppress- 
ors had prostituted, and were then seeking to destroy it. But the mission 
of Lincoln was to restore it to its primitive puritv, and make it conform to 
the Declaration of Independence. lie had no doubt of the final result. 

The speeches of Col. Stevens, Dr. Wight, Lovell, and others that fol- 
lowed were all noble and patriotic appeals to manhood, honor and duty, 
and added new fuel to the flame already kindled. 

Such were the tocsin notes, sounded along the shores of the Winnipise- 
ogee, echoing and re-echoing amid the surrounding hills and mountains, 
and reverberating up and down the valleys of her contributary streams, 
that called together, as if bv almost magic power, a thousand stalwart 
youth and hardv mountaineers, so quickly for the camp, as to hardly be 
equalled in the whole historv of the war. 

It was at this meeting that Col. Stevens first made public his design of 
raising the Twelfth regiment, and, in behalf of the people of the county, 
offered the same to the Governor, ready for muster, within ten days; 
provided it should have the privilege of choosing its own officers — field, 
staff, and company — and be allowed to keep its distinctive organization 
as a regiment, so lon<> - as it should remain in the service. 

This proposition, being afterwards formally submitted to the Governor 
and Council, was accepted ; and on the twelfth day of August, 1862,* 
the necessary enlisting papers were issued by the Adjutant-General, and 
the work was at once commenced with a will and determination worthy 
of the cause. 

Col. Whipple, who seemed the man best fitted by education and 
experience to carry out the plan so ably originated by his patriotic com- 
peer, entered heart and soul into the effort ; and with that inspiring elo- 
quence which the orator can only reach when the cause and the occasion 

* The Adjutantajeneral's record of the "tenth," which was Sunday, is incorrect. 

8 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

demands, exerted a powerful influence throughout the many towns in 
which he spoke night and day, in his memorable circuit around the lake, 
leaving a continuous line of recruits falling in behind him. 

So rapidly were the enlisting papers made out and signed, that hardly 
had three score and ten hours elapsed before returns from the recruiting 
offices of the different companies footed up an aggregate so near the 
requisite number, that it has been claimed by some that the regiment was 
raised in three days. According to the best authority now available, 
enlisting did not commence until the afternoon of Tuesday, the 12th dav 
of August ; and sometime in the afternoon of the next Saturday, Col. 
Stevens sent a telegram to Adjutant-General Colby, that enough men had 
enlisted for a battalion of ten full companies. It must not be understood, 
however, that all the men of the regiment enlisted between the dates 
above given ; for a few, whose names are found on the general roster, 
enlisted at an earlier date, intending and expecting to go in the Tenth or 
Eleventh regiment ; while quite a number, who enlisted later than the 16th, 
took the place of those who were rejected by the examining surgeon and 
mustering officer, or of those who had enlisted for the Twelfth, but went in 
some of the later regiments, because those who enlisted them did not get 
elected to such official positions as they thought the number of their 
respective squads entitled them. 

Nearly a whole company that had enlisted for the Twelfth in Sandwich, 
and chosen their officers, afterward went in the Fourteenth regiment. 

Thus in about four days a full regiment of the hardy yeomanry of 
New Hampshire, who were destined to make for themselves a name and 
fame as enduring as their own granite hills, sprung into numerical and 
potential existence. 

On the 26th of August, the line officers who had been previously 
chosen by their respective companies, met at Morrison's Hall in Laconia 
and elected the regimental field and staff officers, all of whom were 
afterward commissioned by the Governor, except Thomas J Whipple for 
Colonel, George W Stevens for Lieutenant-Colonel, and Dr. George 
Montgomery for 2d Assistant Surgeon ; the place of the latter being after- 
ward filled by Dr. John H. Sanborn of Meredith. 

When it was known that the Governor had refused to commission Col. 
Whipple to command the regiment, there was, among the enlisted mem- 
bers and their friends, a strong feeling of dissatisfaction which, with 
many, soon ripened into bitter resentment. 

It was claimed, with much truth and reason, that the regiment was 
raised upon the express agreement that it should be allowed to choose its 
own officers ; and, from the very beginning, the intention and under- 
standing had been general and out-spoken, as the Governor himself was 
aware, that Col. Whipple was to command it when organized and ready 
for service ; that there was no other man in the state so well fitted, by 
nature and experience, for that position as he ; and that to withhold his 

JVezt' Hampshire Volunteers. 9 

commission was not only a great wrong to Col. Whipple and the men 
who had unanimously elected him, but an act of bad faith on the part of 
the chief executive himself. 

In reply to this. Gov Berry claimed that in refusing to commission Col. 
Whipple he was acting for what he believed to be for the best interests of 
the regiment : that while the risk was theirs, the responsibility was his ; 
and that he could not surrender his conscientious convictions of duty to 
any request or demand of friend or foe. He indignantly repelled the 
insinuations that he was influenced bv either personal or political motives ; 
and to the charge of bad faith, said that it was not only well understood, 
but in the " letter of the bond," that the choice of officers by the regi- 
ment should be subject to the approval of the Governor and his Council ; 
and that he had told the first one who had ever suggested his name, that 
he could and would not commission Col. Whipple to command the 

The reasons given, which were purely prudential — the question of 
competencv being conceded — were not sufficient, however, to satisfy the 
men who would listen to no name or claim but Whipple's. Petitions and 
remonstrances, bv tens and scores, signed bv officers and men of the 
different companies and citizens of localities where they were raised, 
with many letters from influential men in every part of the county and 
other sections of the state, were sent in and piled upon the Executive 
table, all asking that Col. Whipple be commissioned colonel of the regi- 
ment or remonstrating against the Governor's refusal so to do. The 
large number of these papers, still to be seen filed away in the Adjutant- 
General's office, are mute but convincing witnesses of the great pressure 
brought to bear upon Gov Berry to move him from his negative position, 
and get him to complv with the popular demand ; and they attest, with 
equal force, how strong a hold Col. Whipple had upon the confidence 
and admiration of that section of the state where he lived and was best 
known. So intense was the feeling in the regiment against the 
Governor's course that, at one time, it needed but a word to have secured 
an oath-bound resolution, from a large majority of its members, never to 
leave the state until Col. Whipple should lead them; and had not the 
wiser counsels of the cool-headed and law-abiding men in the ranks pre- 
vailed over the more excitable and less considerate, overt acts of mutiny 
would doubtless have been the result. 

As it was, an indolent sore was formed that healed slowly, long remained 
irritable and tender, and left a scar upon some that still remains. 

The reasons why Stevens, who was every way worthy and capable, 
was not commissioned colonel in place of Whipple were, to use the 
Governor's own words, " more than one." But the only one given by 
him may be understood from the following : It seems that Stevens, finding 
that further effort in behalf of Whipple was useless, had, by the advice 
of his friends and the earnest desire of Whipple himself, consented to 

io History of the Twelfth Rco/ment 

accept the position that the latter had expected to till, and to which the 
regiment, naturally falling back upon him as their second choice, had 
elected him ; and Capt. John F Marsh, of Nashua, who had been assist- 
ing to organize the regiment, was at the same time elected as lieutenant- 
colonel, and afterward received his commission. 

In the meantime Gov. Berry had made arrangements with the Secre- 
tary of War to get Col. Potter, then a captain in the regular armv, to 
command the regiment. 

When, therefore, the election of Stevens and Marsh was made known 
to him, he was placed in an embarrassing position ; for which, however, 
none seemed more to blame than himself. 

The regiment had made its second choice in good faith, supposing, as 
thev had every right and reason to, that, if their first choice was denied 
them they would, at least, have the privilege of making another, instead 
of having their wishes entirely ignored. 

It further appears that the Governor acted without the knowledge or 
consent of the regiment, although he says, "This I supposed was known 
to them." 

But whv he should have supposed so, or even so acted as to have made 
such a supposition possible, bv selecting and making efforts to secure a 
new man, regardless of the will or the wish of those who were to follow 
and obev him as their commanding officer, and in the face of the fact 
that their promised choice he had once seen fit to refuse them ; or why 
he did not finally commission Stevens lieutenant-colonel, instead ot 
Marsh, are among the many mysteries of the past. 

And thus it was, that what at the be<rinninsr seemed settled and certain, 
within a few short weeks went for naught ; and both Whipple and 
Stevens, who were first and foremost in the inception and raising of the 
regiment, and who were able and ambitious to win honored names in the 
service of their country, were left in sad dissappointment at home ; while 
the men, who had twice elected them as their commanders, and whom 
thev had so ardently hoped and confidently expected to lead, went 
marching onward to fields of fame and glory- 
That this was the only instance, during the war, where any special contro- 
versy arose between the Governor of this state and the enlisted men and 
officers ot a regiment as to whom should be given the commission to 
command them, and that this assumed such magnitude and engendered 
so much bitterness as it did, is the author's excuse, if any be needed, for 
giving it so much attention. If mentioned at all, impartial justice 
requires that both sides, in the main, without improper personal allusions, 
be represented; and without mention the history of the regiment would, 
certainly, be incomplete. 

Knowing thatit is the historian's duty to elucidate rather than mystify, and 
that to the proper understanding of the merits of this case too much is nec- 
essarily left to inference and conjecture, it is but proper that the reader should 

A"< - ::' Hampshire \ r ohintcc7'S. n 


know that, while Gov Berrv had strong reasons for opposing the will 
the regiment, and no good reason has vet been found for impugning his 
motives, vet it is the belief and opinion of many (including one who has 
recently heard both sides from the lips of the two principal parties in the 
contest, and taken special pains to investigate), that he should not have 
finally decided and actually refused to have commissioned Col. Whipple, 
until all his reasons for so doino- had first been submitted to the regiment 
and acquiesced in bv a majority of its members. 

That while he acted conscientiously, he allowed his firm convictions of 
duty to partially blind him from what, in the light of surrounding circum- 
stances, that duty should be ; taking an unwarrantable responsibility 
upon himself and deterring too little to the wishes and opinions of those 
equally competent to judge, and far more interested in the result. 

That a hearing ot some kind was not had, either before the whole regiment 
as a grand jury . or before all its line officers, acting in a representative capac- 
ity with Gov Berrv and Col. Whipple both present to accuse and answer, 
face to face, so that the whole truth could have been elicited, and all the 
tacts fully understood; and then ample time given tor the regiment to 
discuss and consider those facts before giving their final verdict, was, as 
is believed, a mistake, without which there might and probably would 
have been a compromise honorable and satisfactory to both parties. 

The companies, from the different towns where thev were principally 
raised, or in rendezvous, went into camp at Concord called "Camp Bel- 
knap," during the last davs of August and the first of September, and 
were soon after mustered into the United States service as follows: Cos. 
A and B on the 30th of August; Cos. C, D. E, and F, September 5th ; 
Cos. G, II, and I. September 9th : and Co. K, September 10th. 

Dr Hadlev B. Fowler of Bristol, X II., who had been chosen sur- 
geon of the regiment, and was the first field or line officer to receive his 
sealed parchment of authority, was selected by the Adjutant-General to 
act as examining surgeon, and passed or rejected everv man who pre- 
sented himself as a volunteer of the Twelfth, except one company The 
examination, as it should be, was careful and thorough ; but such was 
the texture and soundness of the material that but few pieces were 
rejected as unfit for the regimental structure. After running in single, 
" undress" file safelv through the gauntlet of Surgeon Fowler's eyes and 
hands, each supposed himself all right for the muster-roll, but the final 
test was yet to come. 

Capt. Charles Holmes, U S. A., was mustering officer at Concord at 
that time, and he required each man to walk along in front of him, while 
his sharp eves watched everv motion and scrutinized every feature, 
judging the fitness of the man for the business required of him quite as 
much from his vital motive as his physical power. 

He would commence on the right of the company, and when it was 
seen that he began to challenge and throw out some of the men before, 

12 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

perhaps, he had got to the center, it made some of the smaller ones, on 
the extreme left, think that their chances were few and fast growing less ; 
and when their turn would come to step out and march up the company 
front, each one did so, expecting, surely, his fate was sealed. But Capt. 
Holmes was not so green as his subjects, but knew from experience that 
it was in the left wings of the companies, instead of the right, that the 
toughest and most lasting material of every regiment is found ; and for 
this reason it is, undoubtedly true, that the Twelfth regiment, with so 
large a number of men above the average size, suffered greater loss from 
discharge for disability and sickness than many other regiments that went 
through equal hardships and exposure. 

After the " boys " had received their muskets and donned their uni- 
forms, they looked and felt so much more like what they had enlisted to 
be — Uncle Sam's body guard — that they all wanted their pictures taken in 
their new garb of army blue ; and the city photographers were kept 
busy in supplying this want to the Twelfth and other regiments in camp 
at that time on the plains. 

They, also, wanted now to visit their homes before they left the state, 
not so much, however, to be seen as they were soon to appear in the 
ranks of war, but once more to see the loved ones that they must leave 
behind ; to give and receive the parting kiss and the farewell word ; and 
to look, perhaps for the last time, upon the heart-cherished faces and 
scenes of love and home. This privilege, of course, was not denied, 
and each one received a short furlough of two or three days or more, 
according to the distance he had to travel and how much time his busi- 
ness required before his final leave. Many had left the hay field to 
enlist, and some enlisted in the field, standing in the swath they were 
cutting and wetting the papers that they signed with the dropping 
sweat of honest toil. But uncut fields of grass and grain were not all 
nor the most important business that needed to be looked after in those 
few short, precious davs. There were infirm and needy parents, depend- 
ent wives, and helpless children that must be provided for ; accounts, 
debts, and claims to be settled, paid, collected, or secured ; law suits to 
be postponed, or compromised to save non-suit or default; and, always 
last in order, though often first in importance, wills were to be executed ; 
for although young, healthy, and strong, their mission was too hazardous 
for thoughtful, prudent men to leave the distribution of their property to 
the chances of war, or the cold, unfeeling law- 
Thursday, the iSth of September, was a memorable day to the mem- 
bers of the regiment, and the many friends and relatives that visited Camp 
Belknap. During the early part of the day many of the roads, leadin<>- 
into the city from a northerly direction, were lined with carriages, filled 
with fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, near and dear friends, and 
many others more or less intimately acquainted with and interested in 
the "soldier boy," his happiness and welfare. But while many come 

SVczl' Hampshire Volunteers 13 

(the reader will excuse the misuse of the verb to help the writer forget 
time and space and imagine himself the happy and hopeful drummer 
boy, once more receiving good things to eat and presents to keep from 
loved ones on that occasion ) by private conveyance, steam gave its aid to con- 
vey to the state's capital three times as many more — the Montreal railroad 
having twelve cars filled with passengers, most of whom left the train at 
the depot for the camp ground on the plains. Each family and man)' of 
the friends sent, or took along with them, a choice portion of home's best 
supply to load the tables the soldiers had prepared, and leave many 
relishable after-bites as a dessert to their regular camp rations. 

After happy hours of greeting and eating the regiment was paraded in 
battalion order before the large crowd of interested, earnest-gazing 
visitors (many of whom had never before seen a thousand men in line, 
and none of whom, before or since, ever saw ten full, battle-lined com- 
panies of nobler-looking men), and then, after this gratifying exhibition 
of themselves, and as quickly and well as the officers and men could at 
that time execute the movement, the line was broken into divisions and 
formed into a hollow square to listen to an address from Col. Whipple. 

He was greeted with six hearty cheers, which, but for a deprecatory 
gesture Irom him would have been supplemented with at least three more 
and a " tiger," all wildly enthusiastic and the last terribly in earnest, as 
affording the men a chance to give audible vent to their feelings in imi- 
tation of that animal when baffled to madness in pursuit of his pre}' 

His eloquent and patriotic address, as reported at the time, was as 
follows : 

Fcllou Soldiers : I am deeply sensible of this cordial welcome. Past 
experience has made me too familiar with the fatigues and hardships of 
the service to detain you in your present position with any extended 
remarks. Your neighbors, friends, and kindred have come here to-day 
to offer you the parting hand, and to take their last leave before your 
departure to the held to participate in the great contest, to which you 
have consecrated your lives and your sacred honor 

While our hearts glow with admiration in view of the patriotic motives 
by which you are actuated, we are solemnly reminded that this parting 
with many of us may be the last. But in times like these, he who has a 
life to give to his country possesses the power to become a hero. He is 
indeed fortunate who, amid the roaring of guns, the thundering of 
cannons, the clash of sabres, and the trumpet blast of bugles, descends 
in glorv to his grave upon the field of battle. Well may such a man be 
envied, when compared with him who wastes painfully away, and, unre- 
membered, surrenders his life in the ordinary course of mortality 
Through all the perils and vicissitudes of the service our anxieties and 
sympathies will follow you, wherever you may go. We have an 
undoubted faith in your valor and your prowess, and confidently expect 
that your achievements on every field of battle will illustrate your name, 
and fill our hearts with joy and exaltation. If you fall, ours will be a 
proud sorrow, untarnished by shame. No regiment from this state has 
yet failed to do its whole duty in the day of trial. Look at the glorious 

i-l History of the Til elf th Regiment 

Second, with its decimated ranks, its few survivors. We venerate those 
who have perished as martyrs, sacrificed upon the altar of constitutional 
liberty ; remembering the gallant Fifth at Fair Oaks, the Sixth at New- 
burn, and now the Ninth, recently organized, like yourselves, and 
already treading the path of glory and of honor. 

I had hoped at one time to share your clangers, to lead vou in your 
coming conflicts, to witness with pride your daring courage, and to par- 
ticipate in the glory of your triumphs ; but this high privilege has been 
denied me by those whose motives I am not here to question. They are the 
repositories of the public trust, and it becomes me to acquiesce in their 
decisions. But, undiscouraged and undismayed, it is mv fixed purpose, 
earnestly and faithfully, in such a manner as I may, to serve my country 
in this appalling crisis. In times like these, it becomes us to trample 
private grievances under our feet and lift up our hearts at the demands 
of patriotism. 

Let me earnestly beseech you to pursue the same course and to cheer- 
fully accept, at the hands of the Executive, such officers as, in his wis- 
dom, he may see fit to appoint to your command. In behalf of all who 
have assembled here to bid you farewell, with a heart deeply sensible of 
the unspeakable emotions which crowd their bosoms, I bid you God 
speed in the noble mission to which vou are now consecrated. 

We envoke upon you the choicest blessings of Heaven ; with mingled 
pride and grief we bid you adieu. I would gladly take each one of you 
by the hand, and speed you on your way with all good wishes. 

With a proud sense of the courtesy of your present commander in my 
reception, and the manner in which you have received these remarks, I 
will detain you no longer, 

With three more cheers for the speaker, the men gathered around the 
wagon in which he was standing, and took his hand with many expressions 
of disappointment and regret that they must go to the front without him. 
The noble, self-sacrificing spirit of his address had won the hearts of all 
who heard him ; and made, as it was, with a full knowledge of the fact 
that, even then, when the temper of their mettle had begun to shade 
away, it needed but a single word from his lips to restore it to the flinty 
blue, that would break before it would bend, it was, indeed, manfully 
heroic and worthy a record on the page of history It was hard for the 
regiment to give up its favorite and first choice, and there were some who 
still believed that Gov Berry would reconsider the question of appoint- 
ment, and finally yield to the urgent request and earnest desire of its 
members. But he proved immovable, and the regiment, following the 
advice and example of their chosen leader, readily, but not willingly, 
followed another to the field of duty. 

During the interval between Whipple, expectant, and Potter, present, 
Gov Berry had employed Col. Thos. P Pierce of Manchester to organ- 
ize and drill the regiment ; and the latter, to aid and assist him, secured 
the services of Capt. John F Marsh of Nashua, who had been a soldier 
under him in the Mexican war, and was then fresh from active service in 
the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers. Through the influence of Col. Pierce, 

A'czc Hampshire Volunteers. 15 

and by his own promptness and efficiency, he was, as we have seen, 
soon afterward commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. 

It was under Capt. Marsh's instruction that the Twelfth received its 
first lessons in battalion formation and drill, and these lessons were con- 
tinued, repeated, and reviewed by him, almost exclusively, when 
and wherever there was an opportunity, until he was disabled by a 
wound at Chancellorsville. 

Capt. Joseph H. Potter of the Seventh United States Infantry, having, 
at the Governor's request, received from the War Department " leave of 
absence from his command to accept a commission in the volunteer ser- 
vice,"' had no sooner left his station on the frontier and reported to the 
adjutant-general of the state, than he was appointed colonel of the 
Twelfth ; and at last the regiment had a commander, and one who knew 
his business, although an entire stranger to the men. It was a hard 
place to put him ; for nothing less than perfection itself, both as a man 
and an officer, could then have pleased or satisfied the men. 

Whipple was their first choice, their ideal ; and crosses and curses 
were good enough for any one who should take the place which they 
thought belonged to him. 

On the other hand. Col. Potter had been so long used to the stern and 
gruff manner of regular army officers, that he could not, at once, realize 
the difference between a green, sensitive volunteer, who had but just 
stepped from the plain of civil equality into the ranks of war, with his 
individual independence still quick to assert itself, and an old, iron-clad 
veteran of the regular army who had been drilled, drudged and driven 
until he hardly knew whether he was a beast or a man. 

All this, of course, was especially unfavorable, for a while, to a smooth 
and pleasant run of the regimental machine. But as the rough spots 
wore off there was less friction, and the colonel and his men, by the 
reciprocal action of positive and negative forces, the hard becoming 
softer and the soft becoming harder, soon worked in harmony ; although 
it was not until after Fredericksburg, as will be seen hereafter, that many 
of the regiment began to appreciate the sterling qualities of their 

On the 25th the regiment was inspected by Adjutant-General Colby, 
who, the day following, presented to Col. Potter the state and national 
colors, the giver and receiver, in behalf of the state and the regiment, 
making short but appropriate remarks ; that of the latter being only long 
enough to embody a soldier's promise that they should never be disgraced 
nor surrendered, for the colonel was a man of deeds and not words. 

Hardly was the regiment fully organized before death entered its ranks, 
and one of its youngest members, Albert L. Buziel of Co. I, was acci- 
dentally shot while purchasing a revolver in one of the shops in the city. 
He will long be remembered as the first victim of the " insatiable archer " 
in the Twelfth, after being mustered into service ; but Randall, who had 

16 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

enlisted in Co. K, died of fever before going into camp, and was buried 
under arms at Wolfeborough. 

On the same day, the 25th, Col. Potter received from the Governor the 
following order : 

" You will proceed with the regiment under your command to Wash- 
ington, D. C, on Saturday, the 27th instant, at 7 o'clock a. m., and 
report there to the commanding general." 

This was the first general order ever issued to Col. Potter as com- 
mander of the Twelfth, and the first time the regiment was under 
" marching orders." The day was, also, eventful as that of the first 
general inspection and the first death, as already noticed. 

But one day now remained before the final departure ; and although 
nothing of general interest occurred, except the presentation of the 
colors, yet it was a busy day with officers and men, in picking and pack- 
ing up, sending letters and packages home, and getting ready for the 
important move of the morrow. How the valises of the sword-bearers 
and the knapsacks of the musket-carriers were crowded with much that 
was necessary, and more that was not, will be referred to in another 

The night before leaving Concord for the front, " Camp Belknap " pre- 
sented a bright and lively appearance. Bon-fires were kindled and kept 
burning late into the night with the accumulated refuse of the camp, and 
the surrounding woods (nearly the whole plains were then covered with a 
scattering growth of pitch-pine), echoed and re-echoed with songs and 
shouts, and most frequent among the latter was the name of Whipple. 

During the day many friends and relatives from a distance had arrived 
and stopped in camp or in the city all night, so as to be sure of being 
present the next morning, when the train, which was expected to leave 
an hour or two sooner than it did, should start. 

It is not unaccountable, therefore, since " like begets like," that some of 
the " boys " were in unusually good spirits on this last night of their stay 
in New Hampshire ; while many others, with nothing to excite them, 
were silent, sober, and reflective. 

Could the dark curtain, that ever hangs between the present and the 
future, that night have been raised or pushed aside, there would have 
been much less of mirth, and much more of sadness. "All men think 
all men mortal but themselves ; " so, while there were none foolish enough 
to believe, that however fortunate the regiment might be, all would again 
return, yet each one seemed to feel, that whoever else might fall, he, of 
course, would escape. 

To this universal law of human existence, so forcibly expressed bv Dr. 
Young, there are, at times, some strange and remarkable exceptions. 
And there was more than one, that might have been found, among the 
sad and silent ones in camp that night, who felt as surely that they would 
never return, as the others did that they would; and, indeed, much more 

JVc~w Hampshire Volunteers. 1 7 

so, for the former it was but the assurance of "auspicious hope," but to 
the latter it was the solemn certainty of a soul-shadowing premonition 
which hope had no power to penetrate or dispel. 

But to the reflective ones among the hopeful as well as the despondent, 
though great the contrast in many cases, the silent hours of approaching 
morn brought serious thoughts instead of pleasant dreams. 

They knew that the coming day was to be their last for a long time, if 
not forever, upon their native soil, beneath which their bodies even might 
not be permitted to rest by the side of their kindred dead, should it be 
their lot to fill a soldier's grave. 

The full force and meaning of the obligation that they had voluntarily 
assumed in entering the service of their country under the oath of their 
enlistment, and from which for three long years or the war, there was 
no release but death (unless so far disabled by sickness or wounds as to 
be ot no further use to the Government) weighed more heavily upon 
their minds than ever before ; and, though few, if any, were yet sorry for 
what thev had done, there were some that half feared that thev had not 
sufficiently well considered their individual situation and circumstances, 
and especially in connection with possible, if not probable consequences. 

They knew from reason, to which imagination was now liberally con- 
tributory, that there was a great difference between the hay-fields from 
which thev had recently come, and the battle-fields for which they were 
about to start ; but it was well, perhaps, that experience, without which 
there cannot be adequate realization, was entirely wanting on the battle- 
field side of the question, for "Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be 

And, without detracting aught from the credit and honor that belong 
to the volunteers of the early years of the war for being prompted to 
enlist by patriotic motives, it can be safely assumed that had each one 
known, before enlisting, as much about marching and fighting as he 
learned afterward, many would have hesitated longer before allowing 
their names to be enrolled, and some would never have enlisted at all. 

State Aid, Allotment, etc. 

The State had made two very wise provisions for its soldiers and their 

By an enactment of the Legislature, towns and cities were authorized to raise 
money "for the aid of the wife, and of the children under sixteen years of age, 
of any inhabitant of such city or town who, as a member of the volunteer or 
enrolled militia of this State, may have been mustered into, or enlisted, in the 
service of the United States; and for each parent or child of such inhabitant 
who, at the time of his enlistment, was dependent on him for support ; provided 
such persons are indigent and stand in need of such relief." 

And for the sums thus paid out by the several towns and cities for the support 
of the family or dependents of any inhabitant who may have been actually 

18 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

engaged in the service of the United States, the State agreed to annually reimburse 
"a sum not exceeding one dollar per week for each child or parent of such 
inhabitant, who at the time of his being called or enlisting into the service of the 
United States, was dependent upon him for support; provided, however, that 
the whole sum so reimbursed shall not exceed twelve dollars per month for all 
the persons so dependent upon any such inhabitant." 

The other provision referred to, was an arrangement that the State made with 
the Government, allowing volunteers to make an allotment of a part, or the 
whole of their pay, in favor of wives, children, or parents ; or to be paid to 
whomever else he might designate ; the paymaster in the army to remit the amount 
of said allotments to the State for distribution, instead of paying the same to the 
soldiers in the field. 

The money received under the first of these provisions was called "State aid," 
and proved of great assistance to many families- 

But in this, as in all other cases where public beneficence necessarily depends 
more upon the self-considered right of the applicant than the actual need of the 
recipient which the law contemplates, some received their regular state aid in full, 
for years, that were not half so much entitled to it as were others who, not 
being able to quiet their conscience with a ''custom-house oath," never applied 
for or received a single cent. 

Nevertheless, there were many who badly needed and gladly received, and 
for them it was, as the law designed, a very wise and necessary provision. 

The object of the allotment was twofold : 

First, to assist families and relatives who, notwithstanding their small pittance 
of state aid, might want for the necessaries and comforts of life ; and second, to 
assist the soldier himself to save what he otherwise might foolishly spend, by 
having his father, mother, guardian, or friend put into the savings bank at home, 
the money, which if not thus secured, would largely, perhaps, go into the 
suttler's drawer in the army. 

Some of those who were mere boys when they enlisted, and never had but a 
few dollars of their own, were agreeably surprised when they returned home at 
the expiration of their enlistment, or at the end of the war, to find a bank 
account to their credit to the amount of several hundred dollars, made up of 
these monthly savings and the bounty that was paid them when they were mus- 
tered into the service. 

But it is feared that they did not always fully appreciate, as indeed they could 
not half realize, the amount of toil, economy, and sacrifice that had been required, 
perhaps, on the part of a kind and loving father and mother, to say nothing 
about brothers and sisters, in order to save untouched every dollar for their 
darling boy when he should return, as they hoped and prayed he might, to receive 
and enjoy it. 

But oh, how worse than worthless is money, with all its purchase power, 
when compared with true filial affection or paternal love. 

From how many happy homes the patriotic son went forth at his country's 
call, but never returned ; and the light and life of that home went out forever. 
To how many more homes the son at last returned, but the father or mother, 
perhaps both, were no longer there to greet him. Many such homes has the 
author visited in gathering facts for this history ; and often has he seen the tears 

A r ezr Hampshire Volunteers. 10. 

streaming down over the deeply wrinkled cheeks, as conversation brought back 
in memory the face and form of him who was once their hope and pride. 

"It was almost more than I could bear," said one heart-broken mother, "and 
my life since has been little better than an anxious and sorrowful waiting, for it 
has seemed all the time that he must come back, or I must go to him." 

Her son was killed at Chancellorsville, and since the above words were 
spoken, she has gone to him. 


The only bounties received by those who enlisted for three years in New 
Hampshire regiments under the call of July, '62, was twenty-five dollars from 
the Government to all who enlisted before August 22, with a promise of seventy- 
five dollars more in three annual installments (those enlisting after that date were 
paid nothing at the start, but received one hundred dollars at their final discharge 
at the end of the war); fifty dollars from the State; and the local bounties, 
varying from fifty to three hundred dollars, as then paid by the different towns 
and cities. 

The same towns and cities paid from ten to fifteen hundred dollars "to 
encourage enlistments" before the end of the war. 

These large bounties were readily voted by the towns, because their respective 
quotas had to be filled, either by volunteers or a draft ; and the average citizen, 
whatever his political proclivities and no matter how bitterly opposed to the 
war, was willing to bear his share of increased taxation for every one who 
would enlist from the town, when every such enlistment made his chances one 
less of having to go himself, or pay from three to five hundred dollars for a sub- 

It should be mentioned here, that the seventy-five dollars instead of being paid 
one third each year, as promised, was not paid until the end of the war, and never 
paid at all to those who were discharged or mustered out, even to receive a com- 
mission as an officer, before the expiration of two years from date of enlistment. 
Officers, who were promoted from the ranks before serving two years, had the 
twenty-five dollars paid them at Concord deducted from their pay. This was not 
only meanly economical, but in direct violation of the letter and spirit of the con- 
tract. Yet the same has never been refunded to those from whom it was so 
unjustly taken, nor any recompense made therefor.* 

Those who enlisted in 1861 got but ten dollars bounty from the Government, 
nothing from the state or town; while those who enlisted in 1S64 received, from 
all three of these sources, an average aggregate of not less than twelve hundred 

Verdant Volunteers. 

Quite a long chapter might be written about the novel experiences, amusing 
blunders, and almost total ignorance, concerning military matters, of the citizen 
volunteers from the northern states in the late war. 

But while they would revive pleasing memories in the veteran's mind, by whom 
they could be best understood and appreciated, yet, like our school-boy reminis- 
cences, would be of no special interest to others. 

* Since the above whs written a bill has been introduced into Congress to pay the full bounty. 

20 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

Instead of being prepared for war, and able to put two or three hundred thousand 
well trained soldiers into the field, as soon as the power of steam could convey 
them there, (as many of the less populous nations of the old world could have 
done,) our Government, when first brought to a realizing sense of its danger by 
the startling sound of rebel cannon fired upon Fort Sumter, found itself destitute 
of almost everything in the shape or semblance of an army or navy with which to 
defend its property or maintain its unity. 

Arms and munitions of war could be soon procured from foreign markets, but 
men prepared to use them were not so easily obtained. 

Our enlisting officers supplied the raw material faster than it could be properly 
shaped and seasoned, and of a kind and quality better than ever before composed 
the -personnel of any other army in ancient or modern times. 

But while, with a little West Point assistance, it could soon be brought into 
proper military shape, the seasoning process required much greater time and 
attention. For this reason rendezvous quarters for volunteers, in the different 
States, were at once turned into drilling camps, in many of which, for want of 
experienced officers, the instructor knew little more than the instructed ; and 
every one, whatever his stripe or strap of command, from corporal to colonel, 
was as green as the men who were supposed to obey their orders. 

It was of such green, unseasoned material that McDowell's army was composed, 
but its proud onward march toward Richmond, and its disgraceful backward run 
to Washington, proved that to "make haste slowly" is a good maxim in war as 
well as in peace ; and especially so when the fighting material of the one is taken, 
almost exclusively, from the civil elements of the other. 

The tyros of our war assembled at " Camp Belknap " were no exception to the 
general rule, only a very few among them had seen the ranks of war, or ever been 
in the military service. 

Of the only two officers of the line who knew anything of war, one had been 
a corporal for a few months in the Second New Hampshire, and the other a 
lieutenant for a short time in the Third ; while the field and staff', until Colonel 
Potter and Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh were commissioned, knew less of their 
duties, if possible, than the company officers. 

Though five or six of the officers, and perhaps a score or two of the men, had 
a dim recollection of having once "trained" in the state militia, before that holi- 
day organization was disbanded for being more expensively ornamental than 
practically useful, yet there was not a single officer or man in the regiment, 
excepting those above referred to, and two or three sergeants who had served in 
other regiments, that knew enough to form a company line ; while not less than 
two thirds of its members could not tell the difference between a platoon and a 
pontoon, unless they happened to remember what the dictionary said about them. 
They knew much more about a catamount than guard-mount, for with the former 
they were, some of them, more or less familiar, having, perhaps, hunted and killed 
it on old Mount Belknap or its surrounding hills, but of the latter they had never 
heard, and were not quite sure whether it was an animal or a thing. 

The reader may think the foregoing statements border too closely on the hyper- 
bolic, but they are no more intimately connected with that much abused figure of 
speech than the simple truth will tolerate in giving a full and fair idea of 

" How little of war we warriors knew." 


From Concord to Falmouth. 

Bright and beautiful, as was the morning of the 27th of September, 
A. D., 1862 — welcome harbinger, as then hoped, of the good luck in 
store — it was a sad, sorrowful day to most of the members of the Twelfth, 
and their many relatives and friends who had come with heavy hearts to 
bid them good-bye, as they left the capital of their native State for the 
seat of war To many it seemed what, alas ! it proved, a last farewell. 

''God bless and protect you," was the parting benediction from the 
trembling lips of gray-haired fathers and mothers, as they took by the 
hand, perhaps for the last time, him who, as their youngest or only son, 
had been their pride in the past, and the hope of their declining years ; 
while wives, sisters, and others no less loving and beloved, with that heroic 
fortitude so characteristic of their sex, when the exigency of the hour 
demands, vied with each other to force a smile and repress the tears until 
the ringing bell called for the parting kiss, and then, while the long train 
of twenty cars moved slowly out, as if reluctant to bear its precious freight 
away, their flooded eyes were left to freely flow, while they waved their 
handkerchiefs until 

•' Distance did quickly intervene, 
To close the last, sad, parting scene." 

More than a quarterof a century has passed since that sad, parting day, 
yet in how many hearts is its memory sacredly treasured, still. For the 
loved one that went, but never returned, the vacant chair around the family 
board long filled its accustomed place, — and who can say, that in spirit, 
he did not occupy it? 

The regiment left the camp-ground at seven o'clock, and marching down 
Main street by platoons, at regular distance, formed a column reaching 
nearly the whole distance between " Free Bridge " road to the old Elm 
House opposite the depot; making an imposing appearance, and eliciting 
complimentary remarks from the hundreds of spectators who filled the 
sidewalks and windows, cheering and waving their handkerchiefs as it 
passed. It should here be recorded, that ten hundred abler and nobler 
looking men never marched, as volunteer defenders of their country's flag, 
through the streets of Concord or any other New England city They 
were, indeed, as afterward called, the stalwart and sturdy " New Hamp- 
shire Mountaineers." 

22 History of the Tzcelfth Regiment 

It was but an hour later when the train, as already described, left the 

Greeted with cheers at every station, to which the boys as often responded, 
the train reached Nashua about ten o'clock, where it received a hearty 
greeting from the large concourse of citizens assembled at the depot and 
awaiting its arrival. Many of the young ladies presented to the " boys 
in blue" beautiful bouquets, in some of which, slyly hidden among the 
flowers, was a verse or motto with the name of the fair donor Quite a 
number of letters afterward sent from the " camp of the 12th N. H. Vols." 
were addressed to the same persons whose names were found in these 
floral offerings, resulting, as said, in another meeting and better acquaint- 
ance when the soldier got his first furlough home, and a life co-partnership 
after the war. 

One of these bouquets, received by Sergeant Osgood, of Company C, 
was presented by Miss E. N Ladd, said to have been a sister of L. C. 
Ladd, of the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment, who was killed by the mob, 
in the streets of Baltimore, on the memorable 19th of April, 1861, and 
contained the following verse : 

" Go then brave soldier, go fight for the right, 
And drive Secession far out of thy sight ; 
And when thou returnest, then shalt thou see, 
That fighting for country is honor to thee." 


It was here also, by the procurement of Colonel Marsh or his friends, 
that several barrels of apples were put upon the train, just before starting, 
as a free, fruit lunch for the regiment between there and Worcester After 
a stop but little longer than necessary to make the change of roads, the 
train, now in charge of Superintendent Bentley of the Nashua and Wor- 
cester railroad, proceeded toward Worcester, where an unexpected but 
very enjoyable reception awaited it. 

As soon as the cars could be emptied, the men were formed in line and 
marched by companies to the city common, where they found eleven long 
tables spread beneath the cooling shade trees and loaded with a bountiful 
collation, furnished by the patriotic and liberal-hearted citizens of that 
city, and which was as liberally disposed of as bestowed. 

After giving three hearty cheers, as a unanimous vote of thanks to the 
citizens of Worcester for their sumptuous repast, the return march was 
made to the depot, where at two o'clock the " all aboard" warning was 
given, and the train, now under the directorship of Julius Webb, moved on 
amid the cheers of the assembled thousands, which were answered back 
with a will from the platforms and windows of the twenty-one cars, all 
filled with the Twelfth family and their baggage. 

The word family, as here used, is not altogether a misnomer ; for prob- 
ably no regiment from New England, certainly none from the State, had 

AV::' Hampshire J^ohmteers. 23 

so many of blood and marriage relationship to each other in its ranks as 
the Twelfth New Hampshire. 

The regiment arrived at Allyn's Point about dark, and were soon 
embarked on board of the beautiful steamer " City of New York," which 
was waiting at the wharf to run a special trip, taking no other passengers. 
An evening ride of refreshing coolness on the Sound, after the heat and 
dusty journey of the day, was a most welcome change that none failed to 
appreciate : and it was not until after the second watch that many sought 
their first slumber on board a steamboat. 

The gorgeously fitted up and brightly lighted cabins and other compart- 
ments were a novel and attractive sight to them, and seemed more like a 
floating palace of Arabian Nights celebrity, than a modernized specimen 
of the genius of Robert Fulton. They had paddled their own canoes on 
" the beautiful lake in the highlands," on or near the shores of which many 
of them had been born and had grown up, and were no strangers to the 
marvelous handiwork of nature in all her displav of grandeur and beauty 
But of the great works of science and art they knew little beyond what 
they had heard and read. Their whole trip to Washington, therefore, was 
like a panorama of new and interesting scenes. 

Before daybreak a thousand gas-lights are seen dimly shining through 
the thick mist, upon the starboard side, by those on guard over their sleep- 
ing comrades and the piles of baggage, and they learn that they are 
passing by the water-front of the great metropolis of New York ; and 
soon, while the eastern sky is being tinted by the touch of coming day, the 
boat swings slowlv up to the pier, and company after company, filing 
across the gang-plank, form a column on the wharf, and march to the 
music of " Yankee Doodle," up the streets of Jersey City to the depot. 
Here, for want of readv transportation, the regiment remained until 
nearly nine o'clock before starting for Philadelphia. 

As soon as the citizens were up, a circular survey of that part of the city 
was quicklv made by the boys in search of something better than could 
be found in their haversacks and canteens. And, notwithstanding it was 
Sunday morning, eating saloons and bakeries, as well as hotels, found it 
paid well that dav to keep an open house for a few hours before church 

Just as the men were getting on board the train that was to bear them 
onward, Governor Berry, on his way home from Washington, made his 
appearance, and was greeted with cries for Whipple, instead of cheers for 

The reception of the regiment at Philadelphia, where it arrived 
between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, was an ovation that will 
never be forgotten while memory's record can be read by the latest sur- 

Nearly every regiment that passed through this city for the front, 
during the war, had reasons for remembering it gratefully as the "city 

24 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

of brotherly love," in deed, as well as name. But now it was joy, as 
well as love, that prompted the citizens to extend so warm and friendly a 

A few weeks before they had been threatened bv an attack of General 
Lee's army, which had called out the whole force of their state militia 
and many volunteers, to protect Harrisburg and their own city : and the 
arrival of fresh troops, under the new call, hastening forward to drive the 
invading forces back and save their city from further danger, called forth 
new and still stronger demonstrations of gratitude and kindness. 

Tired and dusty, hungry and thirsty, the cars are hardly empty before 
the soldier passengers find themselves amid "fountains of water and 
mountains of food." And such an after-meeting, Sunday dinner as 
followed, never before was eaten by any band of New England soldiers, 
at home or abroad, from the days of Miles Standish down to that very 

Church services had just closed, and by the time the regiment was 
ready to bid a reluctant farewell to "Cooper's Volunteers' Refreshment 
Saloon," and its savory dishes, the surrounding square and streets were 
filled with men, women, and children, all anxiously intent on doing some 
act of kindness, or showing some mark of respect. Ladies, richly 
dressed, not content with waving handkerchiefs and sweet smiles, pressed 
forward, many of them, to grasp the soldier's hand, express their sym- 
pathy and gratitude, and bid him be of good cheer and stout heart in 
their country's holy cause ; while men and boys would insist on carrying 
his knapsack, and urgently inquire if there was anything they could do 
or get for him before leaving the city Thus for more than a mile, from 
one depot to the other, it was a march of which their own returning citizen- 
soldiers, fresh from the fields of South Mountain and Antietam, might 
have well felt proud. 

Just as the sun goes clown, cheers and shouts go up from the regiment 
for the grand old city of Philadelphia, and her noble hearted citizens, of 
whom five times as man}- answer back with responding cheers, com- 
mingled with exclamations of "God bless you"; "There can be no city 
without a country"; " When you come back we will treat you better," 
etc., etc., until the train moves out and onward toward different scenes 
and sounds. Wilmington is soon reached and passed, not, however, 
without demonstrations of good will and gladness from the citizens, and 
midnight finds the regiment at Havre De Grace. Here, while waiting to 
be ferried across the Susquehanna, and some of the boys of Company F 
were singing songs of that now distant home of which some of the rest, 
perhaps, were dreaming, they were suddenly saluted with a volley of 
sticks and stones, smashing in one of the car windows, and scattering 
the sash and glass in all directions. 

So sudden and violent was the attack, that it was thought at first to be 
the skirmish fire of another rebel mob, like that which attacked the Sixth 

J\ r ezc Hampshire J^ohtvteers. 25 

Massachusetts in Baltimore ; but a ready reconnoisance in force found 
no enemy in sight. It was the first hostile demonstration ; and although 
weak as it was cowardly, was strong enough to convince one soldier at 
least, who was hit on the head with a stone or club, that he was no longer 
in the ,- city of brotherly love." 

By 4 o clock the next morning the regiment was marching across 
the city of Baltimore to the Washington depot. And though all was 
quiet, and the spirit of rebellion no where manifest, none failed to be 
reminded, that he was marching on the same streets that less than a year 
and a half before were stained with the blood of New Hampshire's sons, 
pressing forward to the rescue of the capital.* 

Here the regiment remained for twelve long and weary hours, waiting 
for transportation to Washington ; and not knowing how soon it would 
be furnished, the men had but little chance to look over the "Monu- 
mental City,"' where a short time before treason rioted, and the assassina- 
tion of Lincoln on his way to the national capital, was an oath-bound plot 
of her aristocratic sons. 

At last cattle-car passage was secured and the seats all taken ; and 
with one or two baggage cars, to take the place of Pullmans for the 
officers, the regiment was again upon the rail, bouncing and jostling 
along toward the great capital city of which all had heard, but few had 
ever seen. 

Thus far good luck and good cheer had made the journey pleasant, 
but soon a sad event occurred that cast a dark shadow of sorrow upon 
Company I, and left a feeling of sadness in the mind of every member 
of the command. While waiting at Mount Clair station, a few miles 
from Baltimore, for another train, also loaded with soldiers, to pass, 
three or four sharp pistol shots were heard, and the little puffs of smoke 
showed that they came from the passing train. These shots came from 
the windows and platforms of the cars, and were fired, as supposed, 
merely in fun as a salute : but the effect was none the less fatal, for 
Darius Robinson, of Company I, who was standing with several others 
in the side door of one of the cars, was struck by one of the balls and 
fell dead upon the floor A telegram was sent ahead to the Relay 
House to stop the train and arrest the man who fired the shots, and when 
the Twelfth reached there Lieut. Henry Ashbey of the Eighty-fourth 
New York Volunteers, was under guard awaiting its arrival. He was 
taken on board and put into the same car where Robinson was shot. He 
was as pale, almost, as the face of the dead man that he had been 
arrested for killing, and the body of whom lay before him. He protested 
his innocence, even of any carelessness, and his story that he discharged 
his revolver from one of the windows of his car, pointing upwards, and 
that the fatal shot must have been fired by another man, was probably 
true ; for it was found at his trial the next day in Washington, that the 

* Luther C. Ladd, killed in the Sixth Massachusetts, was a native of New Hampshire. 

26 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

bullet taken from the body of Robinson was too large to fit the prisoner's 
revolver, and he was released. 

This was the second death in the regiment, both in Company I, and 
both the result, probably, of criminal carelessness. But many believed 
that the fatal ball in this case, was purposely directed, as the man who 
was seen to shoot from the platform was dressed in citizen's clothes, and 
was thought to be a southern sympathizer, pretending to fire a salute by 
swinging his revolver round in a circle, but intending to kill by firing, as 
he did, when it came down so as to do its work of death. 

The night ride to Washington, if ride it could be called, and the unex- 
pected reception there were both so individually impressive, that, like the 
sad event just written, they are very vivid in memory yet, and demand a 
brief record here. 

The night was very warm, and crowded into the cattle cars so close, that 
it was easy to faint but impossible to fall, suffering humanity could not 
long withstand the pressure ; and, making a life-saving virtue of a mili- 
tary necessity, the butts of the muskets were quickly turned into battering- 
rams, and soon there was ample ventilation and a good chance to breathe, 
if not to rest. 

The next morning the train, looked as if it had just run a gauntlet of 
rebel batteries, or been last loaded with eight or ten mules, and a swarm 
of bees in each car. 

Tired, sleepy, and hungry, another thousand or more of the sturdy sons 
of the Granite State are at last within the contour of Uncle Sam's exclusive 
jurisdiction, and looking for the first time upon the dome of the national 
capitol, as it loomed up in sombre silence to catch the first rays of the 
rising sun. 

They expected something like their reception at the ' ' Quaker City " : but 
alas, how grievously disappointed ! 

Not a welcome word nor a greeting cheer was heard ; and the miserable 
apology for breakfast, and the filthy place in which it was served was an 
insult to the soldier and a disgrace to the Government. But for the 
capitol and a few other government buildings, no one would imagine the 
beautiful city of to-day to be the same as that of thirty years ago. 

It was then not only " a city of magnificent distances," but was so filled 
up with " niggers, pigs, and shoulder straps," to say nothing about bucket- 
slopped streets and tumble-down shanties, that the greater the distance 
the more pleasing the view- 

Colonel Potter was now ordered by General Wadsworth, in command 
at Washington, to report with his regiment to General Casey on Arlington 
Heights ; and it was with no feelings of regret that the line was again 
formed and marched across Long bridge for better grounds and a purer 

This march of only seven miles, strange as it may seem, was one of the 
hardest the regiment ever made. 

^Yczc Hampshire Volunteers. 27 

The day was exceedingly warm, and the men in the worst possible 
condition to make it. 

Take, as an illustration, a green colt from the pasture, and send him off 
four or rive hundred miles on the railroad, with little chance to rest or eat 
for thirty-six hours : then put the heaviest kind of a work harness upon 
him, and force him to draw what would be a great load for a veteran truck 
horse for seven or eight miles, half the way up hill, during the hottest 
hours of a very hot day, and the reader will get the best idea that can be 
given why this march from the capitol building to Arlington Heights was 
one not soon to be forgotten bv those who made it. 

Many a tramp of three or four times the distance through the heat and 
dust, or the mud and rain, of Virginia, was afterwards made with much 
less hardship and suffering Some of the men, being immediately put on 
guard and exposed to a heavy shower while still wet with the perspiration 
of the march, contracted colds from which thev never recovered. And 
thus soon did sickness and disease from hardship and exposure — more 
destructive, though less feared in war than the weapons of the enemy — 
begin their work of decimation in the strong and stalwart ranks of the 

The encampment on Arlington Heights — called " Camp Chase," after 
one of New Hampshire's most honored sons, then secretary of the treasury — 
was pleasantly located on General Lee's estate, overlooking Georgetown 
and Washington. Little could the patriotic father, the brave and honored 
" Light Horse Harry" of the Revolution, have thought or dreamed that 
the beautiful estate upon which he spent his last years would in the next 
generation become the camping ground of troops, raised to save the same 
flag for which he fought from the traitorous grasp of his own son. It is 
now occupied as a national cemetery, where General Sheridan and over 
sixteen thousand more of the Nation's brave defenders rest in 

" Their silent tents of green." 

In compliance with orders above referred to, Colonel Potter, upon reach- 
ing the Heights, reported to General Casey commanding a division of the 
Reserve Army Corps, defences of Washington, and by special order from 
his headquarters, dated October 1, 1862, was temporarily assigned to a 
provisional brigade of the One Hundred and Forty-seventh New York, 
One Hundred and Fifty-seventh New York, and the Twenty-first Con- 
necticut Volunteer regiments, then under the command of Colonel Dexter 
B. Wright. 

The second day, after pitching tents and before fairly rested from their 
march, the men received their first lesson, so thoroughly learned by future 
experience, of changing base by moving their camp a short distance across 
the road. But this was the first and last time that the men had to supply 
the want of mule teams, by carrying in their arms and upon their shoulders 

28 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

all the regimental baggage and camp equipage that is usually hauled on 
the baggage wagons. On the 6th, by virtue of a special order of the day 
before, from General Wright, another change of base was made, and the 
regiment moved about three miles to near Fort Corcoran (now called 
Fort Meigs), where it joined General Whipple's division of the Third 
Army Corps, as an independent command. 

It was here that the boys found rare sport in trying to break in a lot 
of mules that were as green in knowing what to do as their instructors 
were in knowing how to teach them. And of all the incongruous mixtures 
of army life there was nothing that could compare in the fun, fuss, and 
fight of persistent efforts and ludicrous results, with a few New England 
Yankees and a lot of unbroken mules. In lofty tumbling, neck-back 
riding, balking, bucking, and kicking, they could discount Dan Rice and 
his trained ponies, whether inside the ring or out. Some of the men, 
who had enlisted as teamsters concluded, after a short but sad experience, 
that they had rather take their chances with a rebel than with a mule bat- 
tery, and willingly exchanged the whip for a musket. 

In the brief time the regiment remained at Fort Corcoran but little of 
historic interest occurred, except the exchanging of the old French mus- 
kets, brought from Concord, and previously captured on the blockade- 
running steamer "Bermuda," for Springfield muskets and rifles; the 
latter being given to the right and left companies, C and F 

To effect this, the march to the city and back, and two or three hours 
waiting in the arsenal yard under a meridian sun that sent the mercury up to 
ninety or more in the shade, was a sharp reminder of the march made a 
few days before and almost as tiresome. 

After exchanging muskets the regiment was marched up to Pennsylvania 
avenue, ranks broken, and the men allowed to rest and refresh themselves, 
each to his liking, for an hour or two before returning to camp. Just as 
the order to break ranks was obeyed with a glad clap for a short respite 
from military bonds, a regiment much resembling the Twelfth comes 
marching down the avenue and as it approaches nearer is found to be 
the Thirteenth New Hampshire Volunteers, and is greeted with a cheer 
which is heartily returned. It seemed good to see another regiment fresh 
from the old granite hills. But Colonel Potter was not so well pleased 
when he learned that the muskets they carried were the very ones he had 
picked out and ordered shipped to Concord for his own regiment, but 
not arriving there until after his departure, had been turned over to the 
Thirteenth Regiment instead of being forwarded to his own command, as 
they should have been. When the long roll was beat for the men to 
rally in line for the return march, one of the musicians did not respond. 
It seems that he had caught the transfer spirit exhibited by the musket- 
bearer, and had exchanged his flute for a walking stick, preferring to be 
a counterfeit gentleman at large, than an honest man and true soldier in 
the service of his country 

S\ r c:c Hampshire Volunteers. 29 

A day or two after exchanging muskets, Prescott Y Howiand, of Com- 
pany D, had his right hand and one or two fingers of his left blown 
oft' by the accidental discharge of his gun, and was discharged a few 
days later, being the first man dropped from the company rolls. 

Arlington Heights being the great rendezvous camp of nearly all the 
troops from the East, preparatory to taking the field, it was thought neces- 
sary in order to give the finishing touch, that everything should be strictly 
"according to Casey," whose tactics had been adopted at the beginning 
of the war ; and hence the author himself, Brig. Gen. Silas Casey of the 
regular army, had been put in command. 

Here, therefore, company and battalion drills were the order of the 
day ; and the officers of the line were kept busy studying and practicing 
positions, formations, and evolutions, that thev might not appear quite so 
green and awkward as they felt. White gloves and red tape, in regular 
West Point style, had to be worn and measured by officers and men, 
and evervthingj perpendicular or horizontal, as straight as a line. 

This strictness of discipline, though seemingly frivolous and non- 
essential, was more or less necessary to trim off and smooth down the 
rough friction points of individual independence that belongs to a free 
citizen, and makes him a smooth running part of the great military 
machine known as an armv, where the gate and the brake are both under 
the absolute control of one man. 

To show the reader of future years that the few days' stop at Arlington 
Heights were not idle ones, but diligently preparatory to the coming 
strife, we will give the regular order of the day as officially promulgated 
from headquarters : 

Reveille at 5 a. m. (roll-call immediately following) : breakfast call, 
6: surgeon"s call, 6.45; squad drill, 7 to 8 ; guard mount, 8; officers' 
drill, 8.30 to 9.30 : battalion drill, 9.30 to 10.30 ; first sergeant's call, 11 ; 
dinner call, 12 : inspection of quarters, 1 p. m. ; company drill, 2.30 to 
4; dress parade — first call, 5.10, second call, 5.30; supper, 6; school 
of instruction (for officers), 7 30; tattoo, 9; taps, 9.30. 

On Sundays there was company inspection at 8.30 a. m. ; church call, 
11 ; in addition to the regular camp calls, except for police and fatigue 
duty and drills. 

But drill and discipline of this kind, however much needed, could no 
longer be given, for the call from the field was more urgent. And so by 
three o'clock on the morning of the 17th of October, the regiment had 
obeyed the order of the night before to be ready to move at that hour in 
heavy marching order and three days' rations ; and in the dim light of an 
hour later it was on the march for Washington, where at 10 o'clock it 
took the cars for Knoxville, Md. 

The train was made up mostly of baggage and stock cars, some of the 
latter being thickly carpeted with manure ; and the men, in leaving, as in 
entering the capital city, were strongly reminded of the cruel necessities 
of war 

3° History of the Twelfth Regiment 

But experience had taught them a good lesson which they did not fail 
to make both practicable and profitable on this as on the former occasion, 
and good vent holes for bad air were soon made through the sides and 
tops of the cars. 

The regiment passed en route through the towns of Bladensburg 
(famous as the old dueling ground of the chivalrous congress members 
of former days, and for the battle that cost us the national capitol in the 
war of 1812), Bellsville, White Oak Bottom, Annapolis Junction, nearly 
to the Relay House, where it branched off onto the Baltimore & Ohio 
railroad and proceeded slowly and cautiously — often stopping to hear 
from our pickets stationed along the road that all was right ahead — 
through Avola, Elliot's Mills, Woodstock, Sykesville, Mount Airy, 
Monoxa, Point of Rocks, and Berlin, to Knoxville. 

The train reached the last named place, about three miles from 
Harper's Ferry, near midnight, where it was relieved of its living freight 
and dead weight of men, horses, and baggage, and by the light of fires 
that were quickly kindled, the companies found their proper position in 
line, stacked arms, and bivouacked for the night. 

This was the regiment's first experience in sleeping uncovered on the 
ground, but the night was warm, and the men, tired and sleepy, will- 
ingly accepted of the situation. Indeed, after a seven miles' march and 
fourteen hours of cattle-car transportation, rest was sweet, and Morpheus 
took no note of his surroundings. 

At the roll-call the next morning, John Nutter, of Company F, was 
missing. The last seen of him he was riding with many others on the 
top of one of the cars where, after the sun went down, they could get 
fresh air to breathe and a cool place to rest : and it was supposed that 
during the night he fell asleep, rolled off, and was probably killed. But 
the last and worst part of the supposition happily proved incorrect, for 
during the day he came into camp, muttering because he had been so 
unceremoniously dumped into the bushes by the wayside and left there in 
the night to find his way into camp with a bruised head and aching 

Others would doubtless have shared the same fate, or a worse one, if 
they had not taken the precaution to fasten themselves to the car before 
going to sleep. 

One of the drummers secured his anchorage by fastening one end of his 
drum strap to his waist belt, tucking the other end through a knot hole, 
and getting one of his comrades inside to run a drumstick through the 
loop : and in this way he swung and snoozed to his journey's end.* 

After rather a late breakfast from the haversack (some, however, 
securing a hot bite from the frying or baking pans of citizens living near 
by, for which most of the hungry ones too dearly paid, if any account is 
taken of acute indigestion in addition to their loss of "scrip,") the regi- 

* But for this drumstick hitch this history might never have heen written . 

-Vrri' Hampshire Volunteers. 31 

meat moved a short distance to the top of a hill, and the men and line 

officers pitched their shelter tents, which had been issued to them before 

leaving Fort Corcoran, for the first time with many a joke and laugh. 

They seemed to them to be a queer and scanty covering for civilized men, 

unused to being cut down in their many cumberous domestic comforts to 

the absolute necessities of physical existence ; and some were reminded 

as they crawled in under them for their first night's trial, how true it is 


" Man wants but little here below 
Nor wants that little long ; " 

although some of the taller ones could not appreciate the wisdom of the 
last word when trying to cover six feet in length of human flesh and 
bones with live square feet of cotton drilling 

These shelter tent pieces went by pairs as well as squares, each piece 
measuring five feet each way with buttons and loops on two sides so that 
when the}' were buttoned together, drawn over a pole supported by 
crotched sticks, and fastened to the ground by small stakes through the 
loops, the roof and two sides were done. 

Then, with a rubber blanket for one gable end — the other remaining 
open for a door, and to allow ample stretching room for the long-legged 
ones — and another rubber for a floor if the ground is wet, and the Arab 
domicile is complete and ready for two. 

Near this first shelter-tent encampment stood a church — not quite so 
costlv and imposing a structure as some whose steeples pierce the clouds, 
for this, after the style of all the country churches in the South, had no 
steeple at all. As the door of the vestry in the basement was not fastened, 
the seats therein were soon pretty well filled with members of the Twelfth, 
all busily engaged in writing letters to inform their friends and relatives at 
home of the new move toward " Dixie," which gave it the appearance of 
a large writing school. 

The next dav was the Sabbath ; but instead of attending divine service 
in the church with Chaplain Ambrose in the pulpit, as suggested by some, 
there was a march of two or three miles and another spread of shelter- 
tents on the east side of South Mountain, near Petersville. Here, on the 
22d of October, by orders from " Headquarters, Army of the Potomac," 
General Whipple's division was assigned to the Twelfth Army Corps, then 
commanded by Gen. A. S. Williams. 

As one of the absurd stories that would often be circulated through 
camp, it was the talk among the men about this time, that the Twelfth was 
an independent regiment, and could not be holden for service outside of 
the State ; and was therefore going back to New Hampshire, and to be 
stationed at Portsmouth. 

This story, which was believed by some, — the wish being father to the 
thought, — started from the fact that the regiment had never been regularly 
brigaded, and now that another assignment had been made without being 

12 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

united with any other regiments as a brigade, the wish strengthened into 
hope with many, that the story might have some elements of truth in it. 

On the night of the 24th the division marched five miles to Berlin, and 
at twelve o'clock the Twelfth bivouacked until morning near the river. 
The night was cold, and the men suffered much, lying on the ground. 
Just as the order came to strike tents, the stern command of Death ordered 
the final discharge of George F Nichols, of Company I, who died after a 
few days sickness of pneumonia. There was hardly time to bury him, and 
mark his grave before moving This was the first death by disease in 
camp since leaving Concord, though several had previously died away 
from the regiment, and Charles A. Xorcross, of Company F, who was left 
with several others sick at Berlin when the regiment crossed the river, died 
there a few days afterward. 

•• Thus, one bv one, from the ranks they fall, 
Untouched by sabre, shell, or ball." 

After one more day and night on the north side of the Potomac, the 
regiment crossed the river on a pontoon bridge, into the State of Virginia. 
The hour of passage was 11 a. m. : and the rain, increasing from early 
morn and lasting through the night, made its introduction to the " Old 
Dominion " somewhat unpleasant. And a few of the members, mostly 
from Company F, anticipating a reception, sooner or later, more unpleasant 
still, never even waited for an introduction, but left the night before for 
another dominion several hundred miles nearer the north pole. 

Once fairly on the " sacred soil," now much more plastic than precious, 
the boys were almost immediately seized with an uncontrollable desire 
to test the nutritious quality of the grasses it produced, as compared with 
that of their native hills ; and so several young heifers and steers were 
sliced up and roasted before the huge camp fires that were kept burning 
nearly all night in order to keep warm. 

The next morning was clear and windy And while some were busy 
rekindling the fires that had hardly gone out, and spreading their blankets 
for the sun and breeze to dry, others were equally diligent in gathering in 
a few fresh eggs and vegetables to be quickly cooked and served up with 
their beefsteak for breakfast. 

A sweet potato vine was at that time a great curiosity to a green Yankee 
soldier, but it did not take him long to find out, that like the peanut, it 
needed fulling to find the best end of it. 

That morning Generals McClellan and Burnside, with their staffs, rode 
by : but little did the men think, as they looked upon them for the first 
time, that President Lincoln's order for the removal of one and the pro- 
motion of the other, was on that very day to be issued from the War 

Before night the Sixth, Ninth, and Eleventh New Hampshire regi- 
ments marched by, and the next morning the Tenth also followed in the 
same direction. 

SVezv Hampshire Volunteers. 33 

On the 29th, by Special Orders, No. 203, Headquarters Army of the 
Potomac, Whipple's division was temporarily detached from the Twelfth 
Army Corps and ordered "to report to General Burnside for special 
service.'" The same day the regiment moved forward about two miles to 
Lovettsville : and the day following it marched about ten miles further to 
Hillsborough, where it encamped for two days in a very pretty grove of 
trees, too pleasant to be so soon abandoned for another hard days march 
of fifteen miles to Snicker's Gap. Firing was now heard almost every day 
from the front, where our cavalry in advance were engaged with the rear 
guard of the enemy Sometimes the distant boom of their light artillery, 
sounding nearer as our forces marched farther, when the rear guard of 
Lee's army would for a while check their advance, would make the raw 
troops think that a regular battle had actually commenced, and expect 
every hour that they would be ordered to halt and form in line of battle. 

Thus from Snicker's Gap through Bloomfield, Upperville, and Piedmont 
to Orleans, a distance of about thirty miles, the regiment by easy marches 
moved southward. 

Here the regiment remained for four days, and as no rations were served 
until the supply train came up the place was called " Starvation Hollow " 
But to go hungry amidst plenty, seemed as unwise as it was unpleasant ; 
and so squads from each company went out to invite the farmers around 
about, all of whom claimed to be good Union men, to contribute a little to 
the commissarv department. 

But finding their willingness to give in inverse ratio to their professions, 
and thinking it but right to subsist on the enemy's country when necessity 
required, it took but few denials to make smart thieves out of poor beg- 
gars : and soon the fields and the orchards were found to be much more 
liberal than their owners. 

But the provost guard had been sent out by order of the division com- 
mander to keep up the appearance, at least, of protection of private 
property, and one hungry squad often or fifteen of "Potter's Pets" were 
captured one day, while out on a foraging expedition of their own, and 
marched to division headquarters.* 

Hearing of this, Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh at once ordered a detail of 
twenty men — two from a company and each armed with his musket and 
a sharp knife — to report at his tent immediately 

Mounting his horse, as soon as the detail arrived, he said: "Follow 
me boys, and let them arrest us if they want to." 

A half-mile march across fields and pastures, and — not the enemy, but 
a flock of sheep were descried quietly grazing a short distance ahead. 
" Deploy, and right and left centre swing," commands the colonel, and 
though not found in Casey, the order was easily understood and quickly 
executed, the sheep retreating into a corner of the field. 

"Halt; ready, aim, fire," came in rapid succession the next words 
of command, and twenty muskets instantly responded. 

* See anecdote. 

34 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

But the poor sheep, oh, where are they? 
Badly frightened and running away, 
But all as sound as before the fray, 

except one that had a slight limp in one of its hind legs, probably caused 
by a cramp-catch at so sudden a start. 

" Throw down your guns and every man for a sheep," is the next 
order ; and then, with a run and a rush, the hand-grab charge is valiantly 
made, and ten or twelve sheep are captured and brought into camp. A 
few minutes later, and they have been skinned, dressed, and divided 
among the company cooks. 

But the watchful eyes of the old farmer have seen his sheep captured 
and carried away, and soon he rides into camp and demands pay for 
them. Colonel Potter has seen nothing of his sheep, and thinks the 
owner has probably made a mistake in the regiment, as his men would 
never do such a thing without orders ; and he was sure that he had never 
ordered anything of the kind. 

Still the old man persists, but finds no fresh mutton, nor signs of any, 
in the camp, which he is allowed to search. Finally the lieutenant- 
colonel tells him that a Union man, as he professed to be, ought not to 
object to assisting the cause by contributing a few sheep to satisfy the 
appetite of the hungry soldiers, and asks him if he has not a few horses 
to exchange for a government receipt that would be fully paid with inter- 
est at the end of the war, upon satisfactory evidence of his loyalty. This 
inquiry had the designed effect of reminding the farmer that he was 
needed at home, in which direction he at once started, after assuring the 
colonel that he had not a single horse he could possibly spare. 

During the stay at Orleans the weather was very cold, several inches 
of snow falling one day, and the miles of rail fence that disappeared 
must have demonstrated the fact to the inhabitants of that section that it 
is nearly as expensive to warm as to feed an army. On the second day 
the Twelfth moved about a mile and pitched tents, in regular order, on 
the south side of a hill, protected from the cold winds by woods and 
affording a fine view of the country in the opposite direction. 

While here part of the regiment went out on picket for the first time, 
and Hutchins, of Company I, had his hand shot off. 

The ioth was bright and warm, and as Commissary Smith started the 
same day for Washington to procure rations, it was hoped the regiment 
might remain there for a few days ; but at night came orders to march, 
which, after the tents were all struck and packed, was countermanded 
just before " taps." 

The next forenoon, the order being renewed, the regiment marched 
about five miles to Waterloo, which proved to be a very small place for 
so big a name ; a few negro huts and the remains of an old woolen mill 
being about all the buildings it contained. The encampment here, which 
was on a high rise of land overlooking the town, lasted the same length 

J\V:£' Hampshire Volunteers. 35 

of time as at Orleans — four days — but the contrast in the weather rec- 
ord and spirit of the men was so great, that it might have been appropri- 
ately called Mount Delight. And this suggestion will be acquiesced in 
by every survivor, when he remembers that here, in addition to a fresh 
supply of sunshine and rations, was the first arrival of the mail after 
leaving Arlington Heights. Although less than a month, it seemed a 
long time without hearing anything from home, and all were indeed 
delighted to receive, as most of them did, one or more letters each from 
relatives and friends in the old Granite State. 

Bv the same mail news came of the removal of General McClellan as 
Commander of the Army of the Potomac, and of the appointment of 
Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside to his place, the latter having formally 
assumed command but two davs before. 

On the 14th, the division was inspected, and on the 16th it marched to 
Washington, where it again joined the Third Corps. Here the sick were 
taken from the teams and ambulances, as well as many from the ranks, 
and sent to Washington. 

Edward Pratt, of Companv C, died about two hours after getting into 
camp, and others soon after arriving at the hospital or on their way 
there. Of the latter was Stephen Batchelder, of Company F, who had 
been made by the rear guard to march during the day, and died on the 
cars before reaching Washington that night. 

From Washington to Falmouth, via Libert}-, Morrisonville, Hartwood, 
and Stafford, the much more rapid movement of the army indicated a 
new impetus, which was rightly attributed to its new commander. His 
plan to advance against Richmond by crossing the Rappahannock at 
Fredericksburg, instead of following the course designed by McClellan, 
had been alreadv approved of by the President with the suggestion that 
delay would prove fatal to its success ; and hence ten and fifteen miles, 
instead of five and six, was now the daily progress of the march. 

On the 19th, while on the march from Morrisville to Hartwood, there 
was a threatened attack of Stuart's cavalry, and Whipple's division was 
halted, formed in line of battle, and stood to arms for about two hours. 
The Twelfth was drawn up in support of Secom's Excelsior Battery, and 
that was the first time the regiment was ever formed in line of battle in 
expectation of meeting the enemy 

Companies C and F were sent out toward the river to act as a reserve 
for the out-posts, in case the enemy should advance. That night the reg- 
iment was ordered to report to General Pratt, commanding the first brig- 
ade, and were sent out on picket near Beverly Ford. 

For three or four days before reaching Falmouth much rain had fallen, 
making the roads so bad that the baggage trains were left far in the rear. 
In consequence of this, as was then supposed, the men of our division 
were put on limited rations, growing smaller and smaller each day until 
only about one hard-tack to a man was left for the last day's march. 

36 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

" Seven miles on one hard-tack," is the entry found in one soldier's diary, 
and it is strictly true. Many marched that day with stomachs as empty 
as their haversacks, and but for their comrades sharing with them, would 
not have had a mouthful of anything to refresh them but water Hook- 
er's grand division of the army reached Hartwood on the 19th, and 
Whipple's division arrived at Stoneman's Switch, on the Fredericksburg 
and Aquia Creek railroad, on the 23d. From this time until the 27th 
there was a general distribution of rations throughout the whole armv, 
commissaries of regiments, brigades, and divisions that had a little, divid- 
ing with those that had less or none. 

By reason of the new plan of operations under Burnside, necessitating 
a new base of supplies, the army was obliged to subsist on short rations 
for several days before and after reaching Falmouth. This caused a 
good deal of grumbling among the men, who, while they keenly felt the 
effects, were entirely ignorant of the cause. It was believed by many 
that Stuart's cavalry had cut off and captured a part of our baggage 
and supply train, and there was no little apprehension about it, for troops 
were then surrounded by woods on every side and had no chance to for- 
age for themselves as at Waterloo and other places on the march. 

From the 17th to the 27th there had been much rain and cloudy 
weather, and the spirit and courage of the army were gradually on the 
decline. McClellan, who had been the idol of the old soldiers, and still 
the ideal commander of man}-, had been superseded by one who, though 
favorably known, had never won that distinction that inspires confidence : 
the different commands for the last two or three days, waiting in the rain 
and cold, where they had last halted, for orders to go into camp or move 
forward ; the large number that were sick or ailing, especially among the 
new troops not yet inured to the exposure, privation, and hardship of the 
bivouac and the march ; the urgent demands of hunger, growing daily 
more imperative, while memory, as if to tantalize, pictured to the mental 
vision, the turkeys, puddings, and pies that were being prepared for 
Thanksgiving at home, — all united with the elements to make the soldiers 
ill-humored and despondent. 

But the reveille of the 27th rings out cheeringly through the clear air 
of a cloudless morn, and the men " turn out for roll-call" with a new 
hope that their dreams of rations, good and plenty, will soon be realized. 
And they hope not in vain, for the bright sun has hardlv risen above the 
tree tops when for miles around the woods resound with loud and gladsome 
cheers, as the news spread that pork, beans, and hard-tack, most welcome 
guests, had actually arrived at Falmouth station and would soon be 
brought into camp. "Cheer up, boys! Stewed beans and hard-tack 
for Thanksgiving dinner ' '' And the remembrance of that dinner with 
every member of the Twelfth (if not of the whole army who were there 
and able to eat) will be as lasting as life. 

New Englanders, as they were, thev never before knew how to appre- 
ciate the Thanksgiving of their Puritan fathers. 

^Yezr Hampshire Volunteers. 37 

Later in the afternoon Colonel Marsh took the regiment out to go 
through, as was supposed, the usual drill. But instead of that, after 
forming the companies en masse, he made a short address, referring to 
the day and its pleasant memories, and called for three cheers for the 
loved ones at home. Seldom do cheers and tears unite, but this, as may 
be imagined, was a notable exception. After returning to quarters, the 
boys broke ranks with three times three for Colonel Marsh. 

Xearer night, when the shades of evening added solemnity to the occa- 
sion, the solemn roll of the muffled drum is heard, as the remains of 
Benjamin W Weeks, of Companv D, are being carried and followed by 
sorrowing comrades to the grave, into which each one drops a sprig of 
evergreen in token of their respect and esteem, and over which the farewell 
salute is fired in honor of a faithful comrade gone. He died the day 
before, of measles, and was the first man to die in the company, and the 
first one, except the captain, whose name was dropped from the rolls. 

George H. Follett, of Companv I, who was left at Hartwood sick 
with the same disease, died on the 25th. 

On the first dav of December a detail from each company commenced 
clearing a place in the woods for a camping ground, and the next day 
the regiment moved across the railroad a few rods, and commenced build- 
ing quarters and putting up tents on the cleared ground. 

From this until the Fredericksburg campaign, most of the time, except 
two or three hours each dav for battalion drill, was occupied in cutting, 
grubbing, and burning up the trees, stumps, and brush for camp and 
parade ground, and soon several acres of the pine forest had disappeared, 
and in its place had sprung up a little village of small white-roofed houses. 

These houses — better called huts — were all of about the same size 
and stvle of architecture, and were erected on regularly laid out streets, 
one for each companv, all parallel with and equally distant from each 
other, and running back at right angles with a broad avenue, on the 
opposite side of which were the more imposing canvas wall and roof 
structures occupied by the official dignitaries of field and staff. 

But most needful of all, and therefore one of the first to be erected, 
was a hospital tent, for the more rapid marching, bad weather, and want 
of sufficient rations since leaving Warrington, had again loaded up the 
ambulances and baggage teams not already over-loaded with the sick 
and dying. 

Some died while being thus conveyed ; some were left to die at houses 
on the march ; while others lived to reach Falmouth, but were the first to 
sleep beneath the pines where so many were afterwards buried who once 
mustered and marched in the ranks of the Twelfth. Among the latter 
were John G. Brown, of Company E, and George R. Clement, of Com- 
pany G, who both died on the 9th, the latter dying with his testament in 
his hand upon his breast, and was buried with it in the same position. 



The army under Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside had been organized by him 
into three grand divisions, and formed in the attack on Fredericksburg, 
the right, left, and centre, commanded respectively by Major-Generals 
Sumner Franklin, and Hooker. 

The Centre Grand Division was composed of the Third and Fifth 
corps, then commanded by Brigadier-Generals Stoneman and Butter- 
field, and the Third Division of the Third Corps, which included General 
Piatt's and Colonel Carroll's brigades and the Twelfth. New Hampshire 
Regiment — an independent command, taking the place of a brigade — 
all under the command of Gen. Amiel W Whipple. 

The better to understand the somewhat inactive, but none the less 
important and trying part that the Twelfth took in this battle, as well as 
to refresh the memory of the reader, it may be stated here that General 
Burnside's plan seems to have been to dislodge General Lee from his 
chosen position in the rear of Fredericksburg by turning his right flank 
with the left wing of his own army, under General Franklin. Sumner, 
in the meantime, with the right wing was to cross over the river into the 
city, and engage the enemy in front to prevent him from reinforcing his 
right : and to carry the heights and break his centre, so soon as the 
success of Franklin should make such an attempt practicable. 

Hooker's grand division was to assist Sumner as needed, but to be 
held mainly in reserve. 

But one thing was evident, clearly and emphatically, that Franklin 
must succeed or Burnside was defeated ; and for this reason he was 
reinforced before advancing by two divisions from the Third Corps and 
one division from the Tenth Corps, increasing his command to sixty 
thousand, with which to meet and drive back General Jackson who com- 
manded the left of the Confederate army. General Longstreet command- 
ing the right. This left, according to General Burnside's official report, 
only fifty-three thousand, about equally divided between Sumner and 
Hooker ; although some authorities place the grand aggregate much 

General Burnside testified before the committee on the conduct of the 
war that he " had about one hundred thousand men on the south side of 
river, and every single man of them was under artillery fire, and about 
half of them were at different times formed in columns of attack."* 

Report of Com., part 1, pa^'e 656. 

^Yezc Hampshire 1'olunteers. 30 

To oppose this force General Lee had less than eighty thousand 
(78,228) men; but to offset the balance against him in numbers he had 
*• Stonewall" Jackson, who alone, against Franklin was equal at least to 
a corps of ten thousand veterans, while Longstreet, impregnably fortified 
as he was by nature and military skill, was a match for fifty thousand 

In fact the odds were so overwhelmingly in favor of the Confederates 
that even Jefferson Davis was ashamed to own that they had over twenty 
thousand actively engaged in the battle.* 

It will be remembered that General Burnside's original design was to 
occupv Fredericksburg as earl}' as the 18th or 20th of November, 
before Lee could concentrate his forces there, but was delayed on 
account of the failure of General Halleck to supply him with the pontoon 
boats that had been promised. And now, when at last, but too late, the 
boats were on hand he determined to make the most of them. He there- 
fore ordered '"two bridges built at a point near the Lacey house, opposite 
the upper part of the tow r n — one near the steamboat landing at the lower 
part of the town, one about a mile below — and, if there were pontoons 
sufficient, two at the latter point."' 

These were not only constructed as ordered on the nth, but another 
was laid during the night near the last two, making six bridges, three 
opposite and three below the city, and averaging four hundred and ten 
yards in length, that spanned the Rappahannock on the morning of 
the 12th. 

From what is written it will be seen that notwithstanding the pontoons 
had come and bridges were plentv, the opportunity to successfully use 
them had long past; and delays, whether needless or unavoidable, had 
made General Burnside's pre-determined attempt to cross the river and 
attack the enemy at Fredericksburg a very hazardous one. But 
apparently with more persistency than discretion, he determined to carry 
out his original plan, however important the change of circumstances. 
And so on the 10th day of December, just as the sun was setting, orders 
came to Colonel Potter to be ready to move in an hour's notice, in light 
marching order, with sixtv rounds of cartridges and four days' rations. 

The long discussed question among the troops whether there would be 
any aggressive movement made by the army that winter was now 
decided ; and bv 6 o'clock in the morning the regiment was in line, 
and soon moving toward the sound of cannon in the direction of Freder- 
icksburg. Tents were left standing in which were left knapsacks, 
surplus clothing, and camp equipage in the care and under the guard of 
sick ones who were able to do light duty After marching about two 
miles a halt was ordered, and expecting to resume the march every 
minute until dark, remained there until 8 or 9 o'clock the next day 

It was a very cold night, water freezing to quite a depth, and the men 
suffered much. 

" Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Vol. II, page 356. 

4° History of the Twelfth Regiment 

During this halt on the nth, heavy cannonading was heard at intervals, 
accompanied with considerable musketry firing, and it was supposed 
that a heavy battle was in progress. But the firing heard and the delay 
of the troops, as soon learned, was caused by the efforts of the enemy's 
sharpshooters to prevent or retard the laying of the pontoon bridges. 

Their fire was so effective and their efforts so persistent that from day- 
light until 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon, notwithstanding a storm of 
shot and shell from several batteries of the one hundred and forty- 
seven guns planted along the river bank, that tore, crashed, and swept 
through the houses and streets, they held back the pontooniers by the 
unerring aim of their deadly rifles. And it was not until three or four 
regiments of infantry volunteered to cross the river in boats and drive 
them from their protected positions behind houses and in cellars and 
ditches, that the bridges were completed. 

Thus a few selected sharpshooters from Barksdale's brigade of Missis- 
sippians held the whole Union army in check for nearly the whole of 
one day ; for although one of the bridges below the town was ready for 
Franklin's forces to cross by 9 o'clock, and some of them did cross, it 
was unsafe for him to advance without the cooperation of the rest of the 

The Seventh Michigan, Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, and 
the Eighty-ninth New York regiments have the honor of finally driving 
all of them from the city, that were not captured, and opening the way for 
the army to follow 

It was a gallant act, made necessary by the determined resistance of 
men equally brave, and in that sense no less worthy of praise. 

When the sun went down on this day of active preparation for the awful 
sacrifice soon to follow, it looked like a ball of fire, so thick were the 
smoke-clouds through which it shone. 

On the morning of the 12th, after a cold, uncomfortable bivouac on the 
frozen ground, Whipple's division was ordered to advance to the head of 
the centre bridge in front of the city, and soon the Twelfth, marching 
about two miles farther, received the order, " In place, rest," a little way 
to the left and rear of the Lacey house, which stands on the high plateau 
opposite the city of Fredericksburg. A part of Sumner's forces had crossed 
over the river and occupied the town before daylight, and troops were still 
crossing, while thousands awaited their chance on the Falmouth side, 
covered from the enemy's view by a thick fog which greatly favored their 
approach and passage. Two or three hours later General Whipple received 
orders to move his division over the upper bridge, hold the approaches to 
the city from the southwest, and to protect the right flank of General 
Couch's command (Second Corps, under Sumner), while that general was 
moving forward to attack the enemy in front. 

In obedience to this order the First Brigade — General Piatt's — attempted 
to cross ; but when the head of it entered the city, the troops of General 

JYezc Hampshire Volunteers. 41 

Couch were so densely massed in the streets and on the river's bank as to 
obstruct the passage, and the column was compelled to halt, the pontoon 
bridge being crowded full, and the column of troops stretching far back 
to the rear 

It was past noon when the Twelfth moved up toward the upper bridge 
to take its place in the division column, and in a few minutes it was, for the 
first time, under the fire of the enemv It was a sudden and savage intro- 
duction, and forciblv indicative of the reception that awaited it upon the 
other shore. The kind mists of the elements that had for many hours 
screened the movements of our army having now dissolved into thin air, 
the rebel artillerists seemed determined to make up for their lost time and 
opened a rapid and concentrated fire upon all the troops within the range 
of their guns. 

The regiment, marching in column over the bluff near the Lacey house, 
had just come into plain sight of the rebel batteries that lined the heights 
on the opposite side of the river, when three shells, in quick succession, 
came with hissing vengeance to warn and drive it back. The first one, 
in exact range, but too elevated, passed harmlessly over ; the second 
buried itself in the bank just in front; but the third, with fatal accuracy, 
struck and exploded in the rear of Company K, wounding six in that 
company and two in Company B. Instantly Colonel Potter, with rare 
presence of mind, gave the order, " Right oblique, double quick, march." 
This brought the regiment out of range and under cover at the same 
time, and never was an order more promptly obeyed or quicker executed, 
although it is not claimed that when the men halted and fronted under 
the bluff, that everv file leader was covered by the same rear rank man 
as when thev last right-faced into column. 

Yet the comparatively cool and steady manner of the men was most 
commendable and satisfied their commander, that, if he was not leading 
veteran regulars he had the material from which they could soon be made, 
and upon which in the hour of coming trial he could safely rely. 

The following officers and men were wounded : Lieut. Charles Marsh 
and Everett Jenkins, of Company B ; Lieut. William F Dame, Samuel 
S. Eaton, Benjamin Ellsworth, Cyrus J Philbrick, Homer Eames, and 
James E. Tibbetts, of Company K ; the last two mortally, both dying a 
few days afterward. Jenkins was also very severely wounded, lying at 
the point of death for a long time, and leaving him a suffering cripple for 
life ; and all the rest were permanently disabled. 

Instead of crossing over the river that day, as was expected, the regi- 
ment remained under the bluff until after dark, with the shells bursting 
just above or in the bank beyond, showering it with mud and dirt. It then 
marched back over the bluff about half a mile, and bivouacked in a 
muddy cornfield which had been sufficiently thawed out by the mid-day's 
sun to offer a bed rather too soft to be comfortable. Some, who slept 
regardless of their surroundings, awoke the next morning to find them- 

42 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

selves anchored fast to the frozen ground, their hair, in two or three 
instances, being the main cable. With such a place for a bed, and a 
heavy sheet of frost for a covering, it required no great, effort of mind and 
memory to draw the sad contrast between that and the live-geese feathers 
and woolen blankets of home. The contrast was so great, and the incli- 
nation for the latter so strong, that a few unwisely concluded to then and 
there rescind their contract with " Uncle Sam," and go where they could 
find more comfortable quarters. It was, indeed, taking the day and night 
together, a most disheartening start-out for comparatively raw recruits 
from New England homes, unused to hardship or danger. Thinking it 
but a foretaste of what was to come, it is not so strange that some, acting 
on the impulse of the moment, and not seriouslv considering the far 
reaching consequences, should, with fear and suffering to impel, so far 
forget the obligations of honor and manhood as to yield to the craven 
behests of self-comfort and safety That they did, however, has doubtless 
been the one great sorrow and regret of their lives. Some of them after- 
ward apprehended received but slight punishment and served bravely and 
faithfully to the end of the war. 

The next morning another start was made for the river, but by a cir- 
cuitous route through a ravine to avoid farther molestation from the rebel 
shells, and to give the men a chance to warm themselves up with a cup 
of hot coffee, where the smoke of their own fires would not draw upon 
them the fire of the enemy. Heavy volleys of musketry are soon heard 
across the river, and -our heavy guns, still remaining on the Falmouth 
side, thunder back defiance to the enemy's batteries that flash along the 
crest of Marye's heights. There is, also, a continuous roar and crash of 
artillery on the left, where a part of Franklin's forces, under Mead, are 
engaged against Stuart and Hill in the attempt to turn the enemy's right. 
About 10 o'clock the sun burst through the thick fog that hung over the 
city, and the Twelfth moved toward, and halted near the head of the 
upper pontoon bridge. 

Nearly two hours later, while the battle was raging in all its fury, the 
regiment crossed the river into the city, and halting in one of the streets 
dose to and parallel with the river, awaited further orders. 

It was while standing here in the mud and water, that the wounded 
soldiers in ambulances and on stretchers were carried by, bleeding, groan- 
ing, and dying as they passed, and the faces of some of the regiment 
were nearly as pale as the poor sufferers, as they looked for the first time 
upon the heart-sickening horrors of the battlefield. It was not a scene 
to make new troops feel especially eager or impatient to mingle in the 
deadly strife from which these wounded and mangled men had just been 
brought, and into which the sober and silent lookers on expected in a few 
moments to be led. 

After waiting here in anxious suspense for nearly two hours, an 
orderly, bare-headed and covered with mud and blood, comes dashing 

Xew Hampshire Volunteers. 43 

down the street, followed by screeching shells, and hands a paper to 
Colonel Potter 

While the colonel is reading it, there is a ' ' zv-o-o-o-i-s-h " and a 
" thud," and the orderly's horse lies dead beneath his rider. 

'• Attent-i-o-n," is now the quick and stern command of the colonel, as 
he vaults into his saddle ; but it is little needed, for business is too important 
and pressing now to admit of any lack of vigilance on the part of officers 
or men. 

The regiment at once advanced on the double-quick up Amelia street to 
Princess Anne street — the third one from the river, and about half way 
through the city — where it filed off right and left, just in time to escape 
a terrific volley from the rebel artillery that swept the street it had just 
left, and which must have many times multiplied the casualties of the day 
before, had not Colonel Potter concluded to give them the exclusive right 
of way just as he did. 

But the march up the street, although lasting but a few moments, was 
by no means a quiet nor a safe one, several shot passing just over the 
regiment or striking near by- One shell struck and exploded near the 
head of the battalion, throwing the mud in all directions and bespattering 
the colonel who calls out, '' Steady," to his men, as he coolly takes off his 
spectacles and wipes them with his handkerchief ; another closely winds 
Company F, and kills an artillery horse close behind ; while a third leaves 
an officer mounted for an instant on a headless horse, as he was crossing 
the street a few rods in advance. Most of the regiment filed in column 
to the left upon reaching Anne street, but the shells and solid shot — some 
of the latter in ricochet order — came so thick and fast that two or three 
of the rear companies cleared the street by the left flank, and thus nar- 
rowly escaped the sweeping volley that would otherwise have torn through 
their ranks. 

Here the regiment remained under cover of the buildings — one of 
which was a church, then occupied as a hospital, and the steeple of which 
was used as a signal tower — until past 4 o'clock, or nearly dark, when 
it again advanced, proceeding this time to the outside of the city, toward 
the enemy, and deployed in line of battle on Prince Edward street, with 
the right resting on Fauquier street, and nearly in front of the residence 
of Col. Robert S. Chew, who was then in the rebel service, and after- 
ward colonel of the Thirtieth Virginia Regiment. General Whipple's 
division was the only one of the Third Corps on this part of the battle- 
field, the other two, Berney's and Sickles's, having been detached from 
Hooker's command to support Franklin, before crossing the river In 
fact, Hooker's grand division, which had been intended as the " Old 
Guard" reserve to be kept intact, and held back for the finishing stroke, 
was broken up into fragments and distributed over the field as early as 
2 o'clock in the afternoon of the 13th, leaving him but the two small 
divisions of Humphreys and Sykes, not to follow up a retreating foe and 

44 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

complete a great victory, but as the last desperate hope of a shattered 
and defeated army 

No wonder that General Hooker remonstrated and re-remonstrated, but 
all in vain, against the worse than needless sacrifice of those brave men, 
who had thus far escaped the fiery ordeal of an assault. This noble effort 
for mercy and humanity is one of the brightest rays that illuminates his 

The last desperate charge of the Union forces against the impassable 
stone wall at the foot of the ridge, by General Humphrey's division, had 
not ended when the Twelfth took its position on Prince Edward street, as 
above stated. Although the crash of musketry, seemingly heavier than 
before heard during the day, too plainly told of the dreadful carnage going 
on but a short distance to the right and front, yet the men began to hope 
that their good luck would last a little longer, as they gladly saw the 
sun — now more like a ball of blood than of fire — go down behind that 
fatal crest, whose name, henceforth, was to be as lasting as the history of 
their country, for the safety and honor of which more than seven thousand 
of her heroic defenders now lay dead or wounded on the plain below. 

The thick smoke that hung over the field, mingling with the fast gather- 
ing shades of night, soon shut off all view of friend or foe at the front, save 
the flash of the enemy's guns, as they still kept up their pitiless fire upon 
Humphrey's retreating forces, some of them " retiring slowly and in 
good order, singing and hurrahing." * 

General Whipple, it appears, had received orders early in the day, to 
cross the river, send one brigade to report to General Wilcox, command- 
ing the Ninth Corps, under Sumner, and with the remainder of his 
division to guard the approaches to the city from the west, and protect the 
right flank of Howard's division, that was to attack in front. But such 
had been the delay from various causes, but chiefly the stubborn resistance 
of the enemy, that the Second Brigade and the Twelfth Regiment did not 
get into position outside the city, as already noticed, until nearly dark. 
To this delay, together with the further fact that the Third Corps had 
been divided and subdivided until it was scattered among as many as seven 
or eight different commands on the right, left, and centre, some of them 
three or four miles apart, is probably due the fortunate escape of this part of 
Whipple's division, which had been detached from the corps before cross- 
ing the river, and ordered to the support of the two or three separate 
commands just mentioned. 

The Second Brigade being the first to cross the river on the 13th, was 
quite heavily engaged in support of the Ninth Corps, losing over one 
hundred in killed and wounded, or nearly one eighth of its whole number 
engaged, before the rest of the division had taken their positions upon 
the field. 

These positions, as assigned and occupied before dark, were as follows : 
One Hundred and Twenty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers were deployed 

* General Humphrey's report. 

J\l":' Hampshire Volunteers. 45 

as skirmishers on the Fall Hill road, between the canals above the city 
and upon the crest of the ridge upon which stands the Mary Washington 
monument ; while two companies of the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth 
New York A'olunteers were advanced in front of the Kenmore mansion, 
in support of which was the Twelfth New Hampshire. The remainder 
of Piatt's brigade — the Eighty-sixth New York and the other eight com- 
panies of the One Hundred and Twentv-fourth New York — was held in 
reserve, occupying the streets in the rear 

Of the batteries, four pieces were placed on the right near the upper 
end of the city, to sweep the flats and bridges across the canal, and four 
others just to the right of the Twelfth, to command the approaches from 
the front. It should be mentioned here, that on the side of the street 
toward the enemy there were no houses for a part of the distance occupied 
by the regiment. When, therefore it deployed along this street, with the 
flash and roar of the battle but a short distance in front, it was expected 
that the next order would be to advance in line of battle to the relief of 
the troops engaged. "I expected this time certain, that we were going 
into action, but we filed into another street, while the shells, grape-shot, 
and bullets whistled over our heads and about our ears almost every 
moment we were marching up," writes Lieutenant Furnal, referring to 
the advance from Princess Anne to Prince Edward street. 

Daylight of the next morning, which was Sunday, found the regiment 
in plain view of the frowning batteries of the enemy, from which a morn- 
ing-salute was momentarily expected. Its position was now as important 
as it was critical, and it is not strange that the order that placed them 
there directed that it be held at whatever cost until relief should come. 

If the enemy should conclude to assume the offensive, as many expected 
he would, his main point of attack was pretty sure to be at or near that 
part of the line held bv this part of Whipple's division. And the reasons 
were that by occupying the monument terrace, their artillery could be 
most easily and effectively massed against it; and, if broken and carried, 
it offered the best prospect of turning the Union right, and gaining 
possession of the two upper pontoon bridges ; thus cutting off the main 
line of retreat, and driving the whole army occupying the city, panic 
stricken, into the river 

If, on the other hand, there should be another effort made to drive the 
enemy from his intrenchments, as greatly feared by those troops whose 
turn would come next, the Twelfth, now occupying the front line, had no 
longer any reasonable ground for hope to escape, and its situation was, 
therefore, critical as well as responsible. 

But as the day wore on with no general attack from either side, and 
but little skirmishing, it soon became evident that while General Burnside 
did not care to renew the costly attempt of the day before, General Lee 
was content, as well he might be, to remain on the defensive. 

Thus watching and waiting, listening and fearing, with more of anxiety 

\6 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

than devotion, that long Sabbath day numbered itself on the countless 
record of the past, and darkness again was welcomed to lessen the 
chances of wounding and death on the field of deadly conflict. The men 
having slept on their arms one night and stood ready to grasp and use 
them any moment through most of the day, concluded it would be more 
home-like to sleep on feather beds and mattresses, than the cold muddy 
streets or hard brick sidewalks ; and so they brought them from the 
houses, together with blankets and quilts that had not been so thoroughly 
aired for a long time, and made for themselves more comfortable beds than 
ever before or afterward enjoyed while sojourning in the land of Dixie. 
While looking for something soft and warm for a bed other things were 
found, good and healthy for supper, and the few remaining "hard-tack" 
were greatly improved by a liberal dip or spread of honey, apple-butter, 
or peach preserves. 

Some, wanting something substantial to go with the palatable, built up 
fires and commenced the business, so generally imitated the next day, of 
supplying the urgent demands of the stomach with a fresh bite of their 
own cooking, and "flapjacks" and honey, washed down with "apple- 
jack" and wine, was a rich and rare treat to many of the fortunate finders, 

About midnight a sergeant from each company was called up to draw 
one day's rations ; but before they could be brought up and distributed 
there was a sharp and sudden discharge of musketry on the picket line, 
nearly in front, which was almost instantly followed by the loud com- 
mand of Colonel Marsh to "fall in"; and startled and shivering men 
from warm beds and pleasant dreams, were soon marching to support 
the batteries covering that part of the field, where they were ordered to 
lie down flat on their faces and remain silent. The nifrht was cold and the 
ground wet, and the sudden change from the dry and warm to the damp 
and cold, chilled some of the less strong and robust to the very marrow of 
their bones ; and disease, suffering, and death, in some cases, was the 
sad but swift result. 

Thus is it true that evil more often than good comes to us in disguise, 
and many a present blessing proves but a future curse. 

And for the benefit of some of the tenderly nurtured and delicately 
constitutioned young men who may read it, the somewhat impertinent, but 
perhaps all the more effective, remark is here made, that this is not the 
only instance where a soft feather bed has been an easy conveyance to an 
early grave. 

Not knowing how long the regiment would remain where it was or 
what would be the next call, the rations that had been drawn were 
carried out by a sergeant and two men from each company, and given to 
the men as they lay upon the ground. 

The regiment remained in this position until it was light enough to see 
any advance movement of the enemy, and then returned to the place it 
so quickly left three or four hours before, when some of the men tried to 
mend their broken naps before roll-call. 

JYezi.' Hampshire Volunteers. ±h 

The 15th was another day of "masterly inactivity," both armies 
remaining in statu quo, and all was comparatively quiet along the shores 
of the Rappahannock. 

But some of the boys, seeing no signs of an immediate renewal of hostili- 
ties and getting a little more indulgence from their officers, than the day 
before, in the way of leaving, a few minutes at a time, the line of their gun- 
stacks, were naturally inclined to investigate a little further into the style 
and practice of southern domiciles and domestics, especially the culinary 
department which was the main object of their search. 

Not much in the edible line save fruits, preserves, etc., was found ready 
for the table ; but the material was not lacking, and "corn pone," biscuit, 
doughnuts, and fritters, with fried ham and eggs, pork steak, and 
chicken stew, were among the many dishes on the bill of fare at some of 
the free lunch houses in the citv 

It was a rare opportunity for hungry soldiers, and was so well 
improved that the waist-belts of many of the self-invited guests to the 
rich feast had to be let out an inch or two to give full play to the respira- 
torv organs. 

There was also the sound of song and music to enliven the feast, 
although in many cases there was more sound than symphony, and 
"Yankee Doodle," " Old John Brown," "Red White and Blue," "Rally 
Round the Flag," "When Johnny Goes Marching Home," and many 
other amusing and patriotic songs were sung with violin and piano 
accompaniment : while others equally as fond of music, but less able to 
produce it at their fingers ends, would undertake to interpret the "Devil's 
Dream" by the spirit-prompted taps and raps of the toe and heel. 

Some of the houses were filled with costly furniture and rare collec- 
tions of nature and art to interest and adorn, the families having only 
time to gather up some of the most valuable before vacating. 

It would be as foolish as it is false to deny, that from such houses as 
well as others, many a bric-a-brac specimen was taken as a keepsake 
reminder of the city of Fredericksburg, and that some of these may be 
found, safely kept in northern homes to-day 

That articles of little or no intrinsic value should be thus appropriated, 
and free use made of all articles of food, was no more than, under the 
circumstances, could have been expected ; but there were doubtless many 
other things of more value and importance taken or destroyed for which 
the author regrettingly acknowledges no justification or excuse, unless it 
may be said in extenuation of the wrong that the wealthy and educated 
citizens of the South included nearly all the political leaders that were 
looked upon by the northern soldiers as the treasonable instigators of the 
terrible war that had been forced upon the country, and that their 
property, if not their lives, was rightfully beneath the hand of the avenger. 
In addition to this was the fact, patent and palpable, that to carry out 
their own purpose of destroying the Government they did not hesitate to 

48 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

destroy their own property, as they had already done to a great extent 
throughout the city, which was likely to be swept again with shot and 
shell, if not by the flames, before the battle was over. 

As it was, there were comparatively few houses in the city that had 
not been struck one or more times by shot from the Union or Confederate 
cannon — by the former when trained upon the city to drive out the 
rebel sharpshooters on the nth, and by the latter in trying to kill and 
demoralize the Federal forces after they had taken possession of the 

Some had been torn and shattered by the artillery, until little more or 
better than standing wrecks in the midst of waste and ruin. Several had 
been set on fire, and but for the timely efforts of the Federal soldiers the 
whole city would quickly have been reduced to ashes. So, rightly con- 
sidered, the inhabitants of the city had quite as much for which to thank 
as curse the Yankee troops, since a home invaded is better than a home 

Just before dark, while the men were preparing for another sidewalk 
bivouac and speculating upon the probability of passing a night as 
undisturbed as the day, the regiment received orders to move ; and reluc- 
tantly exchanging a supper of buckwheat fritters for the stern reality and 
hard experience of war, marched out again to the support of a battery 
near the canal. 

Here it remained until about 9 o'clock, when a startling volley of 
musketry, a little to the left, breaks the stillness of the night, and imme- 
diately there is a commotion strange and unexpected in the city For 
some reason not easily explained — unless because suddenly awakened 
and frightened by the volley — the dogs commenced to bark and howl, 
filling the air with every note in the canine gamut, from the sharp, shrill 
snap of the stub-nosed pug to the deep-toned, doleful howl of the relentless 
bloodhound, until it seemed that every dog in the city, as well as many 
of the hogs and cows that joined in the chorus, had determined upon a 
midnight attack in the rear. 

Concerning this loud outbreak of the brute creation Corporal Musgrove 
wrote as follows : " The dogs in the city set up the most hideous howling, 
the cows and even the pigs joining in the chorus. It seemed as if all 
the hosts of hell were let loose in the city" 

Soon after this uproar of dismal and mournful sounds had subsided, the 
battery was relieved, and the regiment moved a little further into the open 
field and took position between Piatt's and Carroll's brigades near the 

Here the men rolled themselves in their blankets as they lay upon the 
ground, the wind blowing so hard that it was difficult to keep covered, and 
some, unable longer to keep watchful eyes, soon fell asleep, — 

" Lulled by the night wind, and pillowed on the ground." 

SVczc Hampshire Volunteers. 49 

At 2.30 a. m., Colonel Potter received orders to occupy the ground 
between the reservoir and the Kenmore house, and to establish pickets 
from that house to unite with the pickets of Carroll's brigade. For this 
purpose Companies F and C were detached to hold that position, while 
the remainder of the regiment marched back into the city and formed a 
line on Princess Anne street, in front of General Whipple's headquarters 
and near the same place it occupied on the afternoon of Saturday- 
Colonel Marsh was sent out to establish the line of the two companies, 
and by his orders twelve men in charge of Sergeant Randolph, of Com- 
pany C, were advanced and deployed as a vedette line about fifty paces in 
front. Scarcelv was this done when the moon, which was just coming 
up, as if unwilling to disclose their position to the enemy, covered herself 
with dark clouds, and soon the rain poured down in torrents, washing the 
earth from under the men as thev lav still and watchful upon their faces 
on the hillside. 

The situation of the Federal armv was now becoming every hour more 
critical. To advance was impossible ; to remain where it was much longer, 
defied fate and invited ruin ; and to retreat was extremely hazardous. 

It is no longer a secret that General Burnside, upon the disastrous 
failure of the 13th, became furiously impetuous and determined to renew 
the attack the next day regardless of the chances, if he had to lead the 
assault himself. And it is said that General Lee at a council of war on 
the night of the 15th, was advised by General Jackson to "drive the 
Yankees into the river " Lucky indeed for the Union army and cause, 
that the one did, and the other did not listen to his advisers. 

At 5 o'clock the regiment left its position in the city and retreated across 
the river 

But Companies F and C, where were they? Alas ! they had been left 
without notice or warning of their danger, and were still in the face of 
the enemy, anxiously intent to discover any movement in their front, while 
all unconscious of the movements, more important to them, that were 
silently going on in their rear 

But though left, they were not forgotten by Colonel Marsh, who asked 
permission of General Whipple to go back and take them off, but was 
refused for fear the attempt at so late an hour would hazard the safety of 
all the troops not yet across the river. Later, when most of the forces 
had crossed safely over, the request was renewed, but was again refused, 
as it was then almost daylight, and could only result, as was feared, in 
bringing a storm of iron hail upon the pontoon bridges and the regiments 
still within reach of the enemy's guns. Beside, the colonel was told by 
General Whipple, that his orders were strict to see that no field or staff 
officer of his command was left to be captured by the enemy, as the 
colonel would surely be if he made the attempt. But Colonel Marsh was 
not the man to let possible contingencies deter him from what he consid- 

50 History of the Tzcclfth Regiment 

ered a present duty, or to excuse himself therefrom by pleading a major- 
general's approval or disapproval. 

His resolution was fixed, but before he could act he must obey the direct 
command of his superior to cross the river with his regiment. 

No sooner were his horse's feet on the opposite shore, — to gain which he 
was so impatient as to order an army blacksmith's wagon that impeded the 
regiment's progress to be thrown into the river, against the angry protests 
of the driver, who threatened to report him to General Hooker, — than he 
turned his head toward the city, and waiting only long enough to reply to 
Colonel Potter's remonstrance, " I posted the men there, and I shall take 
them off or be taken with them," he put spurs to his horse and dashed 
back across the river, ordering the men who had already commenced to 
take up the bridge to desist until he could bring down the troops that had 
been left. 

Riding out as far as he dared, without attracting the attention of the rebel 
pickets, for it was now daylight, he dismounted, and hitching his horse, 
hurried forward on foot until near enough to whisper his orders to Captain 
Langley, of Company F, to notify Lieutenant Smith, in command of Com- 
pany C, and all followed him as quickly and quietly as possible to the river 
It was now a race instead of a march, until the Rappahannock was once 
more between them and the foe from whom they had so narrowly escaped. 
But in the unexpected call and hurry to obey, the vedettes had been for- 
gotten, and but for sheer good luck would have been captured. One of 
the men as he lay on the ground thought he heard some movement of men 
behind them, and reported the same to Sergeant Randolph, who sent back 
Corporal Osgood to the reserve to ascertain and report the cause. Day- 
light was already dispelling the darkness, and it took the corporal but a 
few minutes to discover that their reserve had left, and that a battery near 
by had also gone. Sergeant Randolph, who had served in the English 
army, was too good a soldier not to understand the full meaning of this, 
and lost no time in taking his squad, " single file, trail arms, double- 
quick," to the river, just in time to cross before the bridge was taken up, 
section after section being swung into the stream close behind them. 

The eight companies that first crossed had marched some distance 
toward their old camping-ground before Sergeant Randolph and his men 
had left their posts in front of the enemy. And when they, with the two 
companies left behind, came in, led by their valiant rescuer, cheer after 
cheer rent the air for Colonels Potter and Marsh — for the former, because 
it was believed he had saved the regiment from useless slaughter, and for 
the latter, because it was already known, that he had saved two companies 
from certain capture. Sergeant Randolph also came in for his share of 
praise for his good judgment and prompt action in saving his men on the 
extreme outposts. 

This was the first manifestation by the regiment of good will for Colonel 
Potter. Before this, for want of mutual appreciation, there had been but 

JYetv Hampshire Volunteers. 51 

little svmpathy between him and his men. But the bond of heart-welding 
union then formed has never been broken. 

After five days of severe exposure, and at this time of general good 
luck and good feeling, the colonel thought it a proper occasion for the 
commissary to roll out a barrel of whiskey, which was accordingly done, 
and dealt out to the men by the gill ; many getting a double portion by 
drawing the rations of those who were temperance men in the army as 
well as out. But drenched to the skin as they were, and still raining, 
perhaps the men who refused their rations were more ultra and less 
reasonable than those who drank them. 

Thus ends the history of the Twelfth at Fredericksburg. 


The Mud March and Winter at Falmouth. 

Upon returning to their old quarters it became known to the officers 
and men, for the first time, that a serious joke or an egregious blunder 
had been played or made by someone in their absence, as the bitter com- 
plaints of the sick who had been left behind as camp guard, fully attested. 

It seems that on the second day after the regiment had left, an officer 
rode into camp, and told them that the orders were, that every man who 
could possibly walk and carry a gun should report to his regiment at 
Fredericksburg at once. 

This, as can easily be imagined, created quite a commotion among the 
invalid home-guard, some of whom were doubtless stouter in body than 
at heart; and most of those who could, packed up and started, not, how- 
ever, without many vehement protests and not a little grumbling from those 
who, being the best able to go, had the least reason to complain. 

After marching as fast as they could — half of them nearly falling out 
by the way — the few that reached the river opposite Fredericksburg 
were a sick and sickly looking squad indeed. 

No sooner were their presence and condition made known, than they 
were ordered back to their camp quarters again. 

There was much indignation felt and expressed by the officers, and 
especially Dr. Fowler, at so cruel and unwarrantable an order ; but no 
one seemed to know who authorized or who brought it. It not only 
unnecessarily harassed and exposed the sick, but left the camp and all 
there was left therein almost entirely unprotected. A court of inquiry 
was talked about among the officers, but nothing was ever done about it. 

General Burnside had tried and failed, but the Army of the Potomac, 
though sadly diminished in numbers and wanting in esprit de corps, was 
still intact and strong enough to oppose any aggressive movement of the 

The great question now asked in and out of the armies, both North 
and South, and that which especially troubled the minds of our chief 
directors at Washington was, "What next?" 

The loyal North, still trustful of its ever true and loyal army upon which 
the Government now solely depended for a name and place among the 
nations of the earth, readily, though almost tremblingly, responded, 
" Try again" ; and the brave and unconquerable heroes of that army. 

JVc":' Hampshire \ T oIunteers. 53 

whose names should be as imperishable as their deeds, answered back, 
" We are ready, but give us a leader.'' 

But those belonging to the anti-war faction of the loyal States, who 
loved peace so well as to be willing to accept it at the price of their 
country's dishonor and ruin, said the next thing to come would be what 
they had confidently predicted from the first, "Foreign intervention and 
a recognition of the Southern Conf ederac}^ " ; that the "abolition war" 
must soon stop, or blood would surely flow in the streets of our northern 

To all this the great Head of the Nation, and commander-in-chief of its 
armies and navy, patiently listened, determined not to act, even in the 
direction of the popular demand, without the most careful and thorough 
investigation as to who was responsible for the uncompensated loss of life 
at Fredericksburg. 

From this to the end of the year nothing of importance occurred in the 
army or of interest to the regiment, except a visit of Hon. John P Hale 
who was gladly received in the camps of all the New Hampshire regi- 
ments, and honored by reviews of most, or all of the division commands 
in which these regiments were found. 

One could not help thinking of the time when he stood alone in the 
national senate chamber in his valiant fight for "free men and free soil," 
nor wondering at the mighty change in the public mind that a few short 
years had wrought. 

Then, not only the Senate, but the House of Representatives, the execu- 
tive patronage and power, the Supreme Court, and, greater than all, — 
and therefore here emphasized and personified, — public opinion were 
strongly and unitedly against him ; now, all the other way, and the posi- 
tion that he then manfully took and bravely maintained single handed 
and alone, regardless of threats, obloquy, and ridicule, had not only the 
approval of every branch of the Government but was being defended by 
more than a quarter of a million men in the field. 

January 1, 1863, those present for duty in the regiment appeared on 
dress-parade in dark blue dress coats, worn for the first time, and sky 
blue pants drawn from the quartermaster but a few days before. 

They looked very much in color, though sadly wanting in number, as 
when they first donned their uniforms at Camp Belknap. 

Colonel Marsh after the parade exercises made a short speech to the 
men, alluding to their fine appearance in their new clothes and good 
deportment, and ended by wishing them all a happy New Year The 
chaplain then offered up a fervent prayer for their lives, their homes, and 
their country 

Thus pleasantly, if not auspiciously, commenced the new year that 
before its end was to bring so much suffering and sorrow to many brave 
hearts and loyal homes. 

From this until the 20th the weather was quite warm and pleasant, and 

54 History of the Tzcelfth Regiment 

General Burnside, determined to retrieve himself if possible, was making 
the days and hours busy with drills, inspections, and reviews, prepara- 
tory to another advance, which, as if the very fates were against him, 
was destined to be equally as ineffectual, though not as disastrous as the 

On the 16th came marching orders. 

The regiment was to move "to-morrow at daylight with three days' 
rations and sixty rounds of cartridges." The 17th this order was 
countermanded, and another given to march at 10 o'clock the next day. 

This order was also countermanded before the hour of its execution, 
but later in the day came new orders, positive and emphatic, to march at 
the hour of 2 P- m. 

'•No more fooling now," said the boys, "for you can always safely 
bet on the third time, even from 'Old Burned-Side.'" But new rulers 
break old rules, and so the old "third time" rule was broken that same 
day by another countermand ! 

At last on the 20th, after three or four days of strange delay in drill- 
ing his army to get ready before it started, General Burnside gave 
the fourth and final order to march, which this time was allowed to 
stand, so far at least as the Twelfth Regiment was concerned, until it had 
marched about half a mile, when a halt was called and continued 
through the whole afternoon and evening, and then — it marched back to 
camp again. If the reader could use his ears instead of his eyes and 
listen to what was then said by the soldiers he would soon learn the rank 
and file dialect of "the army in Flanders," and wonder how the Govern- 
ment could be so indifferent to the spiritual welfare of the army, as to 
allow but one chaplain to a regiment. He would also, if not too piously 
inclined, be greatly amused at the wit and sarcasm that the quick- 
tongued talkers would manage to sprinkle in between their impious 

" Well, Bill, what in does this mean?" 

" Mean? it's mean enough, God knows, in one sense, but it's too 

simple to mean anything like common sense." 

" I can tell you what it means, Dick ; it means that ' Old Burned-Side' 
forgot to countermand his last order to march, this morning. I was afraid 

he was making a fool of himself, by starting before he got ready, 

all the time." 

" He's waiting now for his pontoons, I guess," chimed in the fourth, 
minus the oath. 

"I should think from the present outlook (already raining) he'd better 
order mud-scows," replies the fifth, with more of prophecy than was then 

" Oh, say, boys ! can you tell me why this army is like a young frog?"' 

This conundrum comes from a new speaker, who had evidently been 
thinking while the rest were talking, for all things original are born of 

A'czi' Hampshire Volunteers. 55 

thought, and is followed by several answers from as many comrades : 
•* Because it is always out when it rains." " Because it is always found in 
a mud-puddle." 

,b We'll give it up, Artemus : why is it? " 

•• Because it's got a little head for so long a tail." 

" Pretty good, my boy : hit him again." 

And then there is a general laugh, followed by continued banter and 
debate, until the sweet-briars and laurel-roots are all emptied, and 
there comes the usual ''tip-tap" reminder that silence and sleep is the 
order of the hour. 

There was also much discussion among the men whether there would 
be another start, or attempt to start, on the morrow. And upon this ques- 
tion there was about an equal division, many reasons being given pro 
and con. 

But at noon the next day, when it was quite unanimously agreed that 
there would be no further attempt to move for two or three days at least, 
the rain having poured down incessantly since the evening before, orders 
were again issued to march. 

Amid a storm of curses, from officers and men, they reluctantly make 
read)' again to meet the more pitiless storm of the elements raging 

After three or four miles of wearisome mud-punching, there is a spread 
of shelter-tents in the woods, beneath which seventy thousand men seek 
scanty protection from the cold, sleet, and rain of such a night as can only 
be fully realized bv those who experienced it. 

The next day comes and goes, but the Army of the Potomac moves not, 
for it is stuck fast in the mud. Never perhaps was a great army in a more 
helpless condition : and had not the same cause that made it so also pre- 
vented the enemy from moving, it could have been destroyed or captured 
like a fly in a spider's web. 

The pontoon wagons, and the artillery that was to support the building 
of the bridges and passage of the troops, had nearly reached the river 
and were in plain sight of the rebel pickets, who jeered and joked with 
the advance of the unfortunate and dispirited army- 

They would shout and laugh, and derisively ask : " Where did you 
start for this time, Yanks?" " Don't you want us to come over and help 
you pull your pontoons and guns out of the mud?" 

The army having stopped, the rain stopped at last itself; and on the 
afternoon of the 23d the welcome sun made its appearance and lighted up 
a scene more easily imagined than described. 

The ground, with its clay subsoil, was little better than a mire bed for 
man or beast. But while the former could manage most of the time to 
keep head and body above the surface, the latter, many of them attached 
to artillery or pontoon wagons, were literally buried up in the mud. 

Here and there a pair of mule's ears might be seen sticking up, which 

56 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

served to indicate their condition as well as locate their position. Eight 
or ten pairs of these animals might be seen hitched to one army wagon, 
the result of which would be to draw some of the hind mules in more 
than the wagon was drawn out. While the artillery horses, with double- 
hitch to each piece, would struggle and flounder along until they could 
hardly be extricated, after being detached from their loads. Many of the 
heavier guns had to be abandoned and left as they were, resting in the 
mud, with wheels buried beneath them, until they were dug out with picks 
and spades after the ground had dried sufficiently to haul them back to 

After one or two days' work building corduroy roads, in which the 
Twelfth bore a part, and a much needed reinforcement of a barrel of 
" Commissary," the army, all that had the strength to do so, returned to 
its old quarters. 

And here, after four or five days spent in marching and countermarch- 
ing as many miles, was the end of what will be known in history as 
Burnside's " mud march." 

Although as humiliating as it was aggravating, bringing upon him the 
ridicule of both armies, it was probably well for the Union commander, 
and the cause for which he so long and ardently labored, and to which no 
heart was truer, though he sometimes doubtless erred, that the elements 
seemed to conspire against him. For another attack upon the enemy, 
with many of his generals opposed to him and his plans, and a growing 
want of confidence among the soldiers, must have resulted in another 
defeat, more disastrous perhaps than that of Fredericksburg. 

On the 25th of January, by order of the President, General Burnside 
was relieved of his command of the Army of the Potomac, and Gen. 
Joseph Hooker appointed in his place ; and the day following the latter 
assumed command, and issued an order announcing the welcome news to 
the disheartened thousands of the army, who listened and heard with 
joyful approval. 

At this time the morale of the army was at ebb tide, and lower than 
ever before or afterward. 

Everything was bad and rapidly growing worse, from Headquarters to 
the private on his "beat." The slaughter at Fredericksburg, followed 
by the " mud march," had so demoralized the soldiers that they had lost 
all confidence in their leader, if not in themselves ; and an army without 
a respected head is but little better than a mob. 

Nothing seemed to be looked after as it should have been, but every- 
thing was left to care for itself and drift undirected, except as here and 
there, generals of divisions and brigades would try to bring order out of 
chaos in their respective commands. 

But worse than all was the miserable and shameful condition of the 
medical and sanitary department of the army. 

Thousands died in the hospitals — man}' in their quarters where thev 

S\ czc Hampshire ~\"olnntecrs. ^7 

were allowed to remain, with only such aid and attention as their com- 
rades could give, until death released them — in want of proper care and 
necessary food and medicines, for the lack of which there was no reason 
or excuse whatever. 

Such a condition of things could not, of course, last long, and have any 
army left. Already had the work of disintegration commenced, and was 
making rapid progress, as well from active but dishonorable, as from 
passive and honorable means of diminution. 

Desertions, encouraged and aided by letters and citizens' clothing from 
relatives or acquaintances at home, were becoming every day more 
numerous — as manv as three hundred, as stated upon good authority, 
being marked -% absent without leave " in a single day 

At the same time, as already referred to, the list of mortality, considering 
the season and locality, was almost startling to contemplate. 

One morning, seven of the Twelfth lay dead outside of the regimental 
hospital, and another died therein an hour or two later, before the others 
were buried, making eight, or almost one for every hour, that had been 
"mustered out" during the night, and whose cold and motionless forms 
awaited the parting salute bv their sad and sorrowing comrades who had 
reason to be thankful that they were still among the living, and with 
strength enough left to burv their own dead. 

Because so manv who had started home on furloughs decided not to 
stop until thev got to Canada the granting of furloughs was cut off 
entirely, so that no matter how urgent the necessity it was useless to 
apply for one. 

Yet the deserter, when apprehended, was punished as for some minor 
offence, or not at all : and thus was sorrowfully exemplified the truth of 
the saving that •• mercy to the guilty is injustice to the innocent." 

Had the first soldier who, without palliation or excuse, deserted the 
flag of his country, been shot, as he ought to have been, and all others 
who dared to follow his example been served in the same way, how great 
would have been the beneficial effect upon the army, and how many 
noble and useful lives might have been saved. 

If the reader could but realize what the sick and suffering soldier then 
so keenly felt, and not only the sick but others who knew that those, 
dearer to them than their own lives, were lying on beds of languishing 
and death without being allowed the privilege of administering to their 
comfort or of ever receiving their last farewell, then would this page be 
wet with many a tear 

Some died in camp or hospital of little or nothing more than home- 
sickness. Yet let no one accuse them of want of courage, for had 
they lived they might have shown no want of it on the field of battle. 

" Hope deferred makes the heart sick," but hope abandoned is an open 

And when, after long waiting the chance to return for a few days to 

58 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

the dearest spot on earth to them, there came, instead of the leave of 
absence so ardently desired and so anxiously looked for, an order that no 
more furloughs would be granted, it froze up the blood valves of the 
heart; and the often heard roll of the muffled drum told how many were 
being thus needlessly sacrificed. 

Some, stung to madness at the thought of home and the sick and dying 
loved ones there, heedless of every risk and consequence, answered not 
at the morning roll-call because already on their way without leave to 
that home in obedience, as they felt, to a Higher Power 

For those who performed their mission of love and affection and 
immediately returned, it was well ; but others who had not the moral 
courage to return and abide the result were obliged to keep hidden and 
disguised or go out of the country until allowed to return, as most of 
them did under President Lincoln's proclamation of pardon for all 
deserters who would return to their commands within a certain time. 

But those dark and never-to-be-forgotten days of the Government and 
army passed slowly and sadly away, and soon after General Hooker 
became commander-in-chief hope revived, confidence was restored, and 
the long cold 

— "Winter of our discontent 

Made glorious summer by this son of York." 

From the commissary came less whiskey for the officers, and better 
rations, including vegetables, for the men. Hospitals were renovated, 
new ones built, drunken surgeons discharged, sanitary supplies lurnished, 
and the sick no longer left to suffer and die without proper care and 

Officers and men who from incompetence or disability could be of no 
further use to the service, were allowed to resign or were discharged, 
and those who were playing sick in hospitals were sent to their regiments 
for duty A limited number of furloughs were also granted to the sick 
and deserving. 

In a word, a new order of things was established, and new life infused 
into every department of the army The cavalry, hitherto only such in 
name, was reorganized, and made one of the most effective arms of the 

With a commander thus prompt and efficient, it is not strange that the 
Army of the Potomac quickly had a potential existence once more, and 
was soon ready for the field again. 

During the interim between the "mud march" and active field opera- 
tions under General Hooker, a period of little more than three months, 
but little of importance to the Twelfth occurred, and its history for that 
time will be correspondingly brief. 

Every two weeks the regiment went out from three to five miles on 
picket, remaining out as many days. 

^Yezc- Hampshire Volunteers. 50, 

The varied and sometimes severe experiences of picket duty on the 
Rappahannock during the winter of 1862-3 would fill a small volume of 
interesting reading by itself ; but anything like a full history of the 
experiences of any one regiment would necessarily demand too large a 
share of the total quantity to allow the author to attempt it here. One or 
two incidents, however, will be written hereafter 

When winter quarters were first established at Falmouth there seemed 
no lack of the necessary material to build and warm them, for it was in 
the midst of a vast forest of cedar and pine. But before spring the men 
wished they had been more sparing at first, being obliged to "tote" their 
wood a long way, or cut up the stumps and roots — some of the ground 
was cut over two or three times — that were left nearer camp. 

In February, at date given, General Whipple, commanding the divis- 
ion, issued the following order : 

Hd. Qrs. 3D Div. 3D A. C. 
Camp Near Falmouth, Va., Feb. 19, 1863. 
General Orders, No. 17 : 

The following organization of Brigades is hereby announced, to continue in 
force until further orders : 

1st Brigade. 
S6 Regt. N. Y Vols. 
122 " Penn. " 
124 " N. Y " 
84 " Penn. " 

2d Brigade. 
1st Regt. U. S. Sharpshooters. 

2d " a a " 

1 10 " Penn. Vols. 

12 " N. H. " 

The ranking officers in each brigade will assume command thereof. 

By Com'd of 

Brig. Gen. Whipple. 
(Signed) Hexry R. Daltox, A. A. G. 

Before the battle of Chancellorsville the division was reorganized — 
the two battalions of United States Sharpshooters forming a third brigade, 
and the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Regiment being changed from the 
First to the Second Brigade. 

The Twelfth until now had never been regularly brigaded, but had 
continued to be an independent command — a brigade by itself — and 
subject to no orders from any single-starred general unless acting as 
major-general commanding the division, as General Whipple — an old 
regular army officer and friend of Colonel Potter — was at this time. 

Because of this fortunate fact being taken advantage of by Colonel 
Potter, the regiment was probably saved from useless sacrifice at Freder- 

60 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

One of the brigade commanders who had been ordered to assault the 
enemy's works requested, more as a command than an invitation, that 
Colonel Potter join him with his '-New Hampshire Mountaineers." 

The colonel, looking sternly through his glasses, replied : "I take un- 
orders from General Whipple, sir; and I don't propose to needlessly 
sacrifice my men while I have the power to avoid it." 

This sensible reply, indicative of the true soldier, was overheard by 
some of his men, and by repetition from one to another, it soon came to be 
understood and believed that Colonel Potter had actually been ordered 
forward by proper authority and refused to go. And there are some who 
believe it even to this day- 

The tide having turned in the colonel's favor, as referred to in the 
preceding chapter, it rose higher and higher until the little brooklet 
became a river, and lip praise around the camp changed, as will be seen, 
into something more tangible and lasting. 

But the men and officers having learned to like Colonel Potter, be- 
gun to question among themselves whether they had not done great 
injustice to Governor Berry by their manifestations of ill feeling and 
disrespect, for appointing him ; and as serious reflection is the first step 
toward sincere repentance, the result was that a very respectful letter, 
signed by all the line officers, was sent to the Governor, " earnestly and 
cordially" inviting him to visit the regiment at his "earliest possible 

In reply to this letter was received the following noble and patriotic 
response : 

Concord, March 20, 1S63. 
To the Line and Staff Officers of the 12th Regt. N. H. } r ol?t)itccrs : 

Gentlemen, — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your very 
interesting communication of the 12th inst. with the gratifying invitation to visit 
your Regt. 

I can assure you that were it in my power consistently to comply with that 
invitation it would give me great pleasure; and if I can arrange my business to 
enable me to do so, I will visit you at the earliest possible opportunity. In view 
of all the circumstances connected with the raising and organizing of your Regi- 
ment, your hardships, sufferings, and privations since you left your homes, with 
all their associations, and your native State, in all of which I have been anxiously 
interested and have deeply sympathized with you in all your movements and his- 
tory, all which strengthen my anxiety to meet you. 

I have mourned the loss of those noble men who have fallen from your ranks 
by death, as if they were " bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." 

'Their lives have been offered a sacrifice on the altar of their country, for the 
rights and liberties of men. History will record their names, and their sacrifices 
are never to be forgotten. You, gentlemen, with the men of your noble regi- 
ment, and the many thousands engaged with you, are bravely trying to put down 
the most wicked and powerful rebellion ever known in the history of the world ; 
and that to destroy the best government ever instituted by any nation on earth. 

JVezv Hampshire ] z oluntcers. 61 

I am aware that in the performance of your duties, as privates and soldiers, you 
must suffer the hardships of the camp and breast the perils of the battlefield. 
But be of good cheer, " endure hardness as good soldiers," and I have no doubt 
that victory ere long will crown your efforts ; our nation will be redeemed ; the 
rebellion will be crushed ; and union, peace, and prosperity again bless our now 
distracted and bleeding country 

You are now writing history for generations yet unborn, who will rise up to 
call you blessed. 

A united Noi"th, with a vigorous prosecution of the war, would very soon end 
the strife. But a divided North with rebel sympathizers in our midst will protract 
the struggle and add to the sacrifice of life. But I most devotedly believe a 
glorious future awaits the end of the war, and eternal disgrace and infamy awaits 
those dastardly rebel sympathizers and deserters of their country's flag in this her 
hour of peril and need. 

Could the sun of my life go back twenty-five years, I would be in your ranks to 
aid you in the great struggle. But the sands of my life are too far run to aid you 
with my physical energy. My heart and sympathy are with you; and my con- 
stant prayer to Almighty God is for your health and prosperity and salvation 
through the war, and your eternal salvation in that better land where war is known 
no more. 

With my kind regards for all the officers and soldiers of your regiment, I am, 
gentlemen, with great respect, 

Your obedient servant, 

N. S. Berry 

To Capt. Thomas E. Barker and other officers of the Twelfth New Hampshire 
Volunteers, at Camp Falmouth, Va. 

Eight days later, Governor Berry was a welcome guest in the camp of 
the Twelfth ; and his reception must have been in pleasing contrast to 
those given him at Concord and Jersey City a few months before. 

Lieutenant Durgin, whose tongue was always as ready and as keen 
as his sword, welcomed him with a short speech, quickly seconded by 
three hearty cheers by the men, who were now as ready to grasp the 
Governor's hand, as most of them did, as they once were to curse him, as 
many of them had. 

During his visit he was invited by General Whipple to a review of his 
division, and the regiment appearing on that occasion in new hats and 
pants and white leggins, made a splendid appearance and were highly 
complimented by Generals Whipple and Bowman ; the latter remarking 
that it was the finest looking regiment he ever saw. After the review 
was over, both of these generals and many of their staff officers, visited 
the camp of the Twelfth, and General Bowman delivered a very finely 
written address, eulogistic of the regiment, the State of New Hampshire 
and its honored and patriotic Governor, to which Governor Berry responded 
for the State, and Lieutenant Durgin for the regiment. 

It is to be regretted that General Bowman's address was not procured 
and kept for the use that might now be made of it in this connection. 

62 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

But the visit of the venerable War Governor of the Granite State — who 
is still living, though nearly five score years of age, in comparatively 
good health and strength of body and mind — was but the precursor of 
another visit to the army, a few days later, of one as warmly welcomed 
by General Hooker and the whole arm)-, as he had been by Colonel 
Potter and the regiment — Abraham Lincoln. 

April 6th there was, about a mile from camp, a grand review by the 
President, of all the cavalry. There were from fifteen to twenty thousand 
horsemen and six or seven batteries, and the tramp of the horses through 
the mud sounded something like the sound of a distant waterfall. It was 
a splendid sight to see ; but most noticeable of all was the tall form of the 
commander-in-chief of the army riding on the right of General Hooker, 
with little " Tad" by his side. 

The day following, the President, with General Hooker and a company 
of lancers for a body guard, rode through the different encampments. 
As he passed through the parade-ground of the Twelfth, already formed 
in line to receive him, it presented arms, and the salute was acknowledged 
and returned by the raising of his hat and a bow, while a half smile 
lighted up his sad and care-worn countenance. 

In a complimentary order issued by General Hooker to the army by 
direction of the President, the Twelfth New Hampshire, the One Hundred 
and Twenty-fourth New York, and the United States Sharpshooters were 
mentioned as " deserving special praise for the clean and orderly condi- 
tion of their camps, and the soldierly appearance and conduct of the 
men.' r 

On the third day of his visit there was a grand review of the whole 
Army of the Potomac, excepting the cavalry, lasting nearly all day It 
took place on a large plain in sight of Fredericksburg, and was said to have 
caused quite an excitement in that city. Although each battalion marched 
in close order by division, at half distance, it was more than three hours 
before the rear one had passed the reviewing stand. 

It was at this review, as now remembered, that a movement unexpected 
and out of the regular order occurred. At the firing of the artillery 
salute the horses and mules hitched to some of the baggage-wagons 
became frightened and ran away, smashing and clashing into each other, 
in spite of every effort of their drivers to hold or control them. Many of 
the men and horses were more or less seriously injured, and among them 
Levi Whitney, of Company G, who had his leg broken. 

About this time Colonel Potter was made the happy recipient of a 
splendid horse, presented to him by the line officers as a useful token of 
their love and respect. 

But the men of the musket were not to be outdone by a few shoulder- 
straps ; and so each orderly sergeant held secret conference with his 
company, and soon the amount of $253 was raised to buy a saddle and 
bridle for the new horse, and Sergeant Seavey, of Company K, was 

^.Yc-w Hampshire Volunteers. 63 

selected to go to Washington and procure it. To get a furlough, even 
for three days, when the army was just ready to move was next to 
impossible. But the sergeant, bound to receive no denial unless from the 
lips of General Hooker himself, quickly presented himself before that 
officer, who, after hearing his case, decided in his favor His instructions 
were to buy a saddle worth not less than $200 ; but such a one could not 
be found in the city, nor anything a quarter as good as he wanted. 

Disappointed but not discouraged, he at last found a saddler who 
engaged for the sum of $200 to make him a saddle worth the money, 
although he only had two days and one night in which to have it ready 

With one more hard struggle, which nearly ended in a fight, he suc- 
ceeded in getting on board the boat with his saddle and bridle and a score 
of other things that the boys had sent for — among which was a bass 
drum for the drum corps, and a tenor drum for Walter Libbey, to replace 
the one that the boys had long joked him about throwing away when 
the shells struck the regiment at Fredericksburg — and before light the 
next morning he was back to camp, ready to deliver and report. That 
evening, just after dress parade, there was a large gathering around the 
colonel's quarters, and so well had the secret been kept that the other 
officers were as much taken by surprise as the colonel when Sergeant 
Dinsmore, of Company E, "in behalf of the rank and file of the regi- 
ment," presented him with a saddle and bridle which cost nearly as much 
as the horse thev were bought to adorn. 

The colonel was much affected, and when called upon for a speech 
could only say, with tears in his eyes, " You know I can't talk, boys, 
but from the bottom of my heart I thank you." The horse was now led 
out, all bridled and saddled, and the colonel was lifted into his seat, and 
requested to show himself. As the horse, thus richly caparisoned, proudly 
bore his grateful rider up and down the parade-ground, his bright silver 
trimmings reflecting the rays of the setting sun as he pranced at the loud 
cheers of the men, it was a picture which, could it have a lifelike repro- 
duction now, the survivors of that hour would go a long way to see. 

Sunday, April 26, the members of the Twelfth present had the pleasure 
of listening to an eloquent discourse by Elder John Chamberlain, from 
New Hampshire, his text being the first verse of the eighteenth chapter of 
Matthew He had a voice of remarkable clearness and power, and was 
gifted as a singer as well as an orator. He was the author of the cele- 
brated " Railroad Hymn," which he sang on this occasion with fine effect. 

But camp life was near its end, for Hooker was making ready for a 
move, and there was soon to be a different kind of music in the air. 


Chancellorsville . 

Of this great battle it may be truthfully asserted, that, notwithstanding 
all that has been said and written, it still remains a mystery 

No two of the principal actors seem to be of the same opinion, as to the 
primary causes of the unfortunate result, though all admit that the 
breaking of the Eleventh Corps was accidentally the chief ; nor do they 
agree upon some of the essential particulars, without which no correct 
opinion can be formed. And even the committee, appointed by Congress 
for the special purpose of investigation, did little more than decide, that 
the chief actor in this sad and bloody drama was not drunk, as had been 
charged against him. 

It is greatly to be regretted that General Hooker, who had intended to 
give his own detailed account of this battle, with the reasons for his fail- 
ure, died before the work was little more than in the expectation of his 
friends, who impatiently awaited it. 

General Howard wrote a long magazine article that has been exten- 
sively published and read, but it is quite evident that he designed it more 
in justification of himself than as an explanation for others. And had 
Hooker lived to write his own history of that campaign, it is probable 
that the same criticism would apply, so natural it is to defend our own 
cause and course, especially when both are momentous, and the result 
disastrous ; for few have sufficient moral courage to say with Frederick 
the Great, " I have lost a battle but the fault is all my own." But with 
every word a jewel of truth, and self secondary, no statement or descrip- 
tion, however lucid and comprehensive, from the pen of General Hooker 
himself, could have satisfactorily accounted for his defeat on that sangui- 
nary field. 

The same mysterious Providence that humbled him by defeat there, 
but saved his army, by the death of Jackson, to save the country a few 
weeks later at Gettysburg, can alone answer the question why Hooker 
tried and failed at Chancellorsville. 

"As Fate commands, our actions turn." 

It said, " Thus far, but no farther," to the great Napoleon at Water- 
loo, and with the same unmistakable emphasis, " Xot yet," to the heroic 
and impetuous Hooker at Chancellorsville. 

Jfezv Hampshire Volunteers. 65 

As stated in the preceding chapter, it was evident that some important 
move of the army was about to be made, and this was now confirmed by 
an order to turn over all surplus baggage and clothing (including the 
woolen blankets of the men, and allowing officers only twenty-five 
pounds each to be carried on the teams) to the quartermaster to be sent 
to Norfolk for storage, and to be ready to move, in heavy marching 
order, with sixty rounds of ammunition, and eight days rations — three 
cooked, in haversack, and five raw, in knapsack — to every man of the 
rank and file. 

The men had alreadv seen service enough to take in the full import of 
this order, but the dull routine of camp life had become irksome, and 
thev were getting half impatient for something less monotonous and more 
exciting, even though the work and risk be correspondingly greater. 
And hence the order, suggestive and significant as it was of what was to 
follow, when led by "Fighting Joe Hooker," who had issued it, found 
but few grumblers in the camps of the army, excepting some of the 
officers who did not like to be denied the privilege of transporting all the 
unnecessary baggage with which they had previously so loaded down the 
teams, that no sick soldier could get a chance to ride, no matter how 
desirous to keep along with his regiment, or how unable to do so without 

Mindful of the loved ones left far behind, and of the dangers evidently 
but just before them, many of the more thoughtful improved the oppor- 
tunity, the last perhaps they would ever have, to write letters home, 
telling of what was being done, and what was expected, while others 
purposely withheld such news or refrained from writing at all, lest it 
might cause unnecessary anxiety 

Alas ! in how many homes of the North to-day is carefully preserved 
the last missive of love and affection from a father, brother, husband, or 
son, dated " Falmouth, Va." 

On the 28th of April, at the hour of 2 o'clock in the afternoon, orders 
came to strike tents, and soon the regiment was forming in line, while 
the drum corps, at the suggestion of the sergeant-major — for it seemed 
like leaving home — played the tune of " The Girl I Left Behind Me." 

In less than an hour all is ready, and the colonel, riding to the centre- 
front, gives the command : " Shoulder arms ; right face ; right-shoulder- 
shift arms; forward, route step, march," and "we are off for Richmond 
or the grave," as the boys expressed themselves. 

After quite a long march, continuing into the night, the regiment 
halted and bivouacked near the river, and some four or five miles below 

The next morning, before it was fairly light, the army awoke to a 
reveille of musketry, accompanied at intervals by a heavy artillery base, 
in the direction of Fredericksburg. A thick fog hung over the city and 
stretched along the valley of the Rappahannock. 

66 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

This was looked upon by some of the soldiers as greatly in our favor, 
as under cover of it the troops could with greater security lay the pon- 
toon bridges and cross the river. But had they better understood the 
game that was being played by their commander they would have known 
that the fog, by screening the movements of this part of his army from 
the enemy's view, was liable to materially interfere with, if not entirely 
defeat his plans, instead of assisting him to carry them out ; for the main 
design of this movement on the left was to deceive, and not to surprise 
the enemy For this reason his artillery continued active, with no other 
object — Brooks' division of the Sixth Corps having crossed the river 
before light and driven back the enemy's pickets — than to indicate to 
the ear of General Lee what could not be seen through his field-glass, 
that the Union commander was intending to renew the effort of Burnside, 
to drive him from his position by attacking his right and centre. But 
Hooker had no thought of following in the bloody footsteps of his unfor- 
tunate predecessor, His plans reached farther, and promised far better 
results. However befogged the enemy, as well as his own men, in 
trying to divine his intentions, in his own mind all was bright and clear. 

When, in a few hours, the morning mist obeyed the "Sovereign King 
of Day " and retreated from the valley to the cloud-capped mountains, it 
uncovered to the anxious gaze of General Lee a large part of the Fed- 
eral army, massed on the opposite and lower banks of the river, and 
apparently making preparations to cross in force upon the bridges 
already constructed there, and turn his right flank. 

Two divisions of the First Corps, with the Sixth waiting to follow, had 
already crossed the river, while the Third Corps under Sickles lay further 
back in reserve. 

During this and the following day there was much marching and coun- 
termarching around and between the hills by infantry and artillery, and 
so maneuvered by General Sedgwick in command of this wing of the 
army, as to make it appear to the enemy that the whole army was con- 
centrating here, and that a general attack was about to be made. 

This last was true, but the Confederate commander was watching in 
the wrong direction ; and, before he was aware of it, his left instead of 
his right flank was turned by General Hooker at the head of over forty 
thousand men at Chancellorsville. 

Toward noon, General Whipple's division of the Third Corps moved 
about half a mile further down and nearer to the river. The day had 
been dark and cloudy, and the night coming in cold and wet, the men, in 
no happy mood, gathered around their camp fires and begun to discuss 
the situation and prospect of things. 

Some of the nervo-sanguine temperament became impatient, and 
wanted to know what General Hooker was waiting for, and why he did 
not advance in force. And some ironically expressed the opinion that he 
had probably built two or three pontoon bridges, a la Burnside, to give 

Nczv Hampshire Volunteers. 67 

the enemy due notice that he was coming, and where he intended to cross 
the river. Later, as the rain increased, they feared it would be another 
stuck-in-the-mud tramp. 

Others, more inclined to look upon the bright side, but equally in the 
dark, would banter their fault-finding comrades by telling them that 
"Old Joe" ought to have consulted them before he started, not only 
about the weather, but concerning his general plan of operations ; that 
they had better write " Uncle Abe" how things were going, or waiting 
to go, and petition the clerk of the weather for a dry time to get back to 
camp in, etc., etc. 

While others still, more matter of fact and philosophic, would calmly 
discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this and that plan of a cam- 
paign, and the relative probabilities of success should Hooker decide to 
adopt one or the other Thev rightly concluded that the move to the left 
was nothing more than a feint, but were wholly unable to even conjecture 
when and where the real attack would be made. 

The next morning all that were able, crawled out from under their 
water-soaked shelters, some pleasant and smiling, but most of them cold, 
crabbed, and cross ; and it was noticed, as they sat shivering around their 
slowly kindling fires, waiting for a dipper of hot coffee to warm them 
up, that the number of last night's grumblers had largely increased, 
while the jokes were less — though you could neither freeze nor drown 
out the irrepressible wit of some — and the reflective ones were silent. 

Nothing, unless defeat, dampens the spirit of an army in the field like 
wet weather. 

Slowly the morning hours pass, but the storm is over, and just as the 
welcome sun breaks through the scattering clouds — bright harbinger of 
the good news coming — a courier dashes into camp, and this is the glad 
tidings that he brings : 


Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 30, 1863. 
It is with heartfelt satisfaction that the commanding general announces to the 
army that the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy 
must either ingloriously fly or come out from behind his defenses and give us 
battle on our own ground where certain destruction awaits him. The operations 
of the 5th, 1 ith, and 1 2th Corps have been a succession of splendid achievements. 

By command of 

Maj. Gex. Hooker. 
S. Williams, Asst. Adjt. Gen. 

No sooner was this published to the Third Corps, by being read in 
front of every regiment, than such a shout went up with a cloud of caps 
and hats, that one who was there lifts his pen and listens, half thinking 
he can hear it now. 

68 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

How quick and great the change ! 

"A moment ago 'twas a drear, dumb show," but now — 
The doubting and pouting together are shouting " hurrah for ' Fighting Joe.' " 

All was enthusiasm and excitement now among the troops, as thev 
impatiently awaited the momentarily expected order to march. It came 
at i p- m., and soon the whole corps were on the road to United States 
Ford. For twelve long hours, or until i o'clock the next morning, 
without a single halt of more than a few moments at a time, the weary 
but cheerful soldiers continued their march, bivouacking at last near 
Hartwood Church, and having by this forced march of eighteen or 
twenty miles, over a circuitous valley route that hid them from the enemy, 
placed themselves some twelve or fourteen miles nearer to and within 
supporting distance of Hooker's right, which they were to reinforce, and 
where their potent presence was soon to be felt, as well as needed. 

This was the first forced march the Twelfth had ever made. But the 
inspiring send-off it received, lasted way through, and kept up the cour- 
age of the men. Besides, it was confidently believed that the Army of 
the Potomac had at last got a leader who knew what to do, and was 
going to do it. And it is quite as necessary to have confidence in your 
leader as courage to follow him. Certainly neither was wanting now, 
and never was leader or led more sanguine of success, or more willing to 
fight for it. But in war, if nowhere else, "it is the unexpected that 

The afternoon had been quite warm, and many wished before night 
that their overcoats were with their woolen blankets, on the way to Nor- 
folk. And some, regardless of want or worth, forgetful of the night 
before and heedless of the nights to come, deliberately threw them away 
— to be picked up, perhaps, by other soldiers who had been without long 
enough to learn the need of them, or to lie until the army had passed, 
and then to be quickly gathered up by the close following citizens to be 
sent off to their relations and friends in the rebel army 

These ready finders of all our troops were foolish enough to throw 
away — although it was by no means always foolish to do so — were 
typical representatives of the ''poor white trash" of the South in ante 
bellum days, and which are still to be found plenty in many of the south- 
ern states. An old horse or mule, sometimes, but oftener an old ox, a 
steer, or a cow, strangely tackled by means of an old harness or yoke, 
spliced together and tied up by ropes, strings, and pieces of twisted bark, 
to a primitive kind of a two-wheeled, nondescript kind of a cart, that no 
Yankee would care to make or imitate if he could, with an old man or 
woman or a young boy, and sometimes a girl for a driver and a cord or 
string of some kind tied to the bits or horns — as the animal motive power 
might belong to the equine or bovine order — for reins, and the pen- 
picture is by no means complete, but only a scratch-sketch of some of 

JCczi 1 Hampshire Volunteers. 69 

the picking-up teams of the stay-at-home natives that used to follow our 
armies on their marches through the South. 

Many loads of "Uncle Sam's" dressing goods were picked up in this 
way, not only of overcoats, but of blankets, dress coats and vests ; and 
even of caps, boots, socks, shirts, and drawers, together with many other 
things of less worth, and the knapsack in which they had been carried, 
and all, that could be of any use to them, sent to help clothe the ill-clad 
soldiers of the rebel armies. And thus the clothing accounts of many of 
the Federal troops were often unwittingly duplicated for the benefit of the 
men they were fighting. From this source, and from what was robbed 
from our men who were taken prisoners, and stripped from the dead and 
wounded left on the field, the rebel soldiers received a large share of 
their clothing. 

General Sickles, with his corps, being now within supporting distance, 
his troops were allowed to rest until 11 o'clock, when the bugle again 
sounds " Fall in," and soon thev are crossing the Rappahannock at 
United States Ford. 

Soon after crossing the river the column entered the woods, and word 
came back from the front to look out for the rebel cavalry that were re- 
ported close upon our flank. 

Sound of distant picket firing could now be distinctly heard in the 
advance, and orders were given to load. 

Just after this order was received, and while the men where executing 
it, there was a sharp and sudden crack of musketry, as it seemed, in the 
immediate front. For a moment it was thought that the rebel cavalry 
had opened upon us with their carbines, and some of the boys turned 
pale from fear for the first and last time through all the fighting and dan- 
ger that they were in during their whole service in the war. A company 
or two in the next regiment ahead had snapped caps to clear out their 
gun tubes before loading. 

" Only this, and nothing more." 

This little incident shows how the best of troops may sometimes be 
thrown into disorder by an unexpected attack, just as the Eleventh Corps 
was on the day following. 

Orders were next given to regimental commanders to keep their com- 
pany files well closed up, ready to face, front or rear, into an unbroken 
line of battle at a moment's warning, as the enemy's cavalry was liable 
to charge upon the marching column and cut it in two, unless ready to 
receive them. 

After marching two miles further, another halt was called, and the 
order given to unsling knapsacks, and stack them up in company files by 
the side of the road. One man from each company was left behind to 
guard them, and the regiment, now in fighting trim, excepting overcoats, 

70 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

again marches forward, while the increasing musketry, interspersed with 
artillery, sounds " nearer, clearer, deadlier, than before." 

Soon is seen the smoke of the skirmish line — for it is little more than 
a skirmish as yet — and then the brigade is deployed in line of battle, 
ready for action. 

The lieutenant-colonel rides along in front of the Twelfth, saying, 
" Don't be frightened, boys ; I never knew a battle to be fought when you 
expected it." This was done of course to strengthen the timid ones, if any 
such were there, but it had a quieting effect upon the nerves of all who 
believed, as most of them did, that the regiment would be engaged before 
dark. But Colonel Marsh proved as good a prophet as he was soldier ; 
for as evening approached the firing gradually died away, " and about 
10 o'clock," as writes one, " we marched back to our knapsacks." 

Here, with the dead leaves upon the ground for a bed, and the green 
branches of the forest pines overhead for a covering, all slept, sound and 
undisturbed, through the night. 

Early the next morning the men were aroused from their sylvan biv- 
ouac, and while awaiting the breakfast preparation of " Government 
Java," already simmering over the crackling fires, Lieutenant Elder 
Durgin, using a rotten pine stump for a pulpit, preached a five minutes 
sermon to the members of his company, and such others as quickly 
gathered round, telling them in his own earnest and impassioned style, 
that the day of duty and danger had come, and that they must shirk 
neither, but stand up and fight like men worthy to bear the name of 
" New Hampshire Mountaineers," and to prove themselves, on the com- 
ing field of battle, heroically true to their country and their God. 

After transferring a liberal portion of their cooked rations from the full 
haversacks of " Uncle Sam" to the now quite empty, old-fashioned ones 
of their own that would hold the hot coffee that was now ready, thereby 
both lightening their load and increasing their strength to carry it, they 
strap on their knapsacks and return to the front. During the forenoon 
the regiment, moving with its brigade, marched up the plank road past 
the Chancellor House, halting and waiting at two or three places along 
the way, and near the hour of noon, filed off on a cross road, leading 
into the woods from a cleared elevation, now known as Hazel Grove. 

While waiting here for further orders, and enjoying the refreshing 
coolness of the forest shade, no one suspected that, within less than half 
a mile of their pleasant and seemingly safe retreat from the mid-day sun, 
the advance of General Jackson's rebel troops, with muffled dippers 
and canteens, were silently but swiftly marching past our right flank, 
upon which, ere the setting sun, it was to fall like a thunder-bolt from a 
clear sky 

So near indeed were some of our men, who had gone further into the 
woods in search of water, that they were discovered by Jackson's flank- 
ers, and only saved from death or capture by fear the latter had of mak- 

A'cr; 1 Hampshire Vohintecrs. 71 

ing known their near approach and thereby imperiling their own safety, 
and the ultimate success of the bold and hazardous movement of their 
determined leader. 

The cursory picket firing of the morning, that for some time was 
anxiously listened to as prelusive of the expected battle, had gradually 
died away, until no sound of war was heard, -and all was quiet along the 
silent course of the Rappahannock. But it was the storm-brewing calm, 
and the verv air seemed tremulous with apprehension of coming danger. 

While resting and waiting in the shade of the sweet-scented pines, and 
enjoying the rare opportunitv of washing down their noon-day lunch 
with clear, cool water from a neighboring spring, the joke and laugh 
went round, and it seemed more like a school-boy's picnic, than a lucky 
hour's respite from the •• rough and rugged ranks of war." 

''This is too good to last," remarked one of the thoughtful ones, and 
it did not last, as will soon be seen ; for even while the boys were enjoy- 
ing their post prandial amusements, Colonel Potter, with the true in- 
stinct of an old soldier and Indian fighter, snuffed danger in the air, and 
taking a hint from one of the staff officers about the enemy's movements, 
went with him out bevond our troops, and putting his ear to the ground 
could distinctly hear the rumble of artillery passing by, and now and 
then the well known click of the wheel hubs against the shoulders of the 

This, with other information of like import, was soon communicated to 
General Hooker, and about the same time a part of the moving column 
was seen about two miles away, near the " Old Furnace." 

About 12 o'clock General Sickles requested and obtained permission of 
General Hooker to advance with two divisions of his corps and intercept 
this column, and ascertain, if possible, whether that part of Lee's army 
was retreating, as some thought, from the direction of their march at the 
point where they could be seen, or whether it was circling round to 
attack our flank and rear 

General Whipple's division being selected by General Sickles as a part 
of his advancing force, the Twelfth Regiment was soon again beneath 
the sun's hot raws, trampling the dusty road in search of the enemy. 

Smoke was seen rising in the distance, and the word came back from 
the front that the enemy w r as surely retreating, and burning his baggage 
to keep it trom falling into our hands. 

This report was believed by many of the officers, as well as men, and 
even by General Hooker himself, as recorded by some of his corps com- 

Among the men of the ranks there was a division upon the question 
between the old and the new enlistments ; the latter beginning to hope 
that they would soon be in Richmond (as some of them were), while the 
former, who had served under McClellan and Pope, were less credulous, 
and did not believe that Lee or Jackson would run before they were hurt. 

72 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

To the often repeated expressions of the more sanguine that " Hooker's 
got 'em " ; "They conclude to ' ingloriously fly' rather than fight us on 
our own ground"; "The Johnnies don't like the relative situation of 
things as well as they did at Fredericksburg"; "There is no stone zeal I 
butting ox: stuck-in-the-mud nonsense this time," etc., etc., would be heard 
the ready rejoinders : " Never crow till you're out of the woods " ; " We 
have heard enough of this kind of talk before"; "You'll find out befo)-e 
you know it (many a true word is spoken in jest) that 'Old Lee' is 
neither a fool nor a coward, and that his men can fight equally well 
whether behind a stone wall or pine trees" ; " Go slow, Joe, and let your 
hair grow ; for don't you know that 'taint all so?" 

But while sad experience had taught the volunteers of '61 not to expect 
an easy victory, yet remembering the prowess of their chief as shown in 
the battle of Williamsburg and other engagements on the Peninsula, 
and the laurels, yet green upon his brow, won on the bloody field of 
Antietam, they, in common with those who only knew him by reputation 
as " Fighting Joe," had full confidence that when an order to retreat, or 
an offer to surrender did come, as soon it must from one side or the 
other, it would not come from him. 

In order to protect and cover his own flank while moving himself 
against the flank of the enemy, General Sickles, after marching a mile 
or more, ordered General Whipple to move his two remaining brigades 
— the other brigade, Berdan's sharpshooters, having already been de- 
tached to act as skirmishers and flankers — obliquely to the left of the 
road upon which he was advancing, so as to check any aggressive move- 
ment of the enemy from that direction. 

Soon after leaving the road the two brigades were deployed in line of 
battle. Colonel Bowman's, of the Twelfth New Hampshire and Eighty- 
fourth Pennsylvania, forming the right in the order named. The One 
Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania, of this brigade, had been left back to 
support a battery 

In this formation, preceded by a line of skirmishers, the division 
advanced down through a ravine, across a brook nearly waist deep, and 
then ascended a steep and rugged hill, the side of which was so densely 
covered with trees and bushes, entwined and interlaced with vines and 
briars, that it was almost impossible to keep a single file together, to say 
nothing about a line of battle. 

Gaining the top, the line, if such it could now be called, was reformed, 
while Company C, of the Twelfth, was ordered to deploy as skirmishers 
and move obliquely to the right for a short distance. Finding no enemy, 
or signs of any in that direction, it soon returned, and the line, swinging to 
the left, moved rapidly down the opposite side of the hill into a meadow 
across which the rebel pickets were exchanging shots with our skirmishers. 

The bullets soon multiply, as the rebel reserve comes up, into quite a 
horizontal shower, but so quickly do the men obey the order to lie down, 

SVezi' Hampshire Volunteers. 73 

and so closely do they hug the ground at the edge of the meadow, that 
only one man of the regiment was seriously wounded. This was Hutch- 
ins, of Company I, who was hit in the elbow by trying to see the 
"Johnnies" and avoid their fire at the same time. 

This was the first time the regiment had come under musketry fire, 
although it had become well acquainted, if not too familiar, with solid 
shot and shell at Fredericksburg. 

While waiting on the top of the hill for Company C to return from its 
reconnoissance, one of the non-commissioned staff of the Twelfth went 
forward to the skirmish line, where one of them, crouched behind a small 
boulder, was exchanging shots with a rebel sharpshooter across an inter- 
vening valley 

" Cover yourself, quick, if you don't want your comrades to do it for 
you,'" cried out the skirmisher as he noticed the approach of his visitor 
But before the latter could fully comprehend the meaning of the warning 
words, to say nothing about time to obey them, there came a swift inter- 
preter in the shape of a Minie-ball that whispered in his left ear, and 
reminded him, just then, that he might be wanted back with his regiment. 
He did not wait for another reminder. 

Just as " yon level sun " was sending the shadows of the forest trees 
across the meadow, there was a roar and crash of arms almost in the 
rear and seeming to come, as it reallv did, from the very place that the 
division had occupied but a few hours before. It was the first blast of 
the cyclone that swept the Eleventh Corps from its position on the right 
of the Union line like chaff from a threshing floor. 

The solid columns of General Jackson's advance were now making too 
desperate and determined attacks upon the rear of our own army to allow 
further chasing after the rear guard of his, and the division was at once 
called back from its now dangerous position in front to meet a still greater 
danger in the opposite direction. 

General Whipple now leads his command rapidly from the meadow 
back over the hill, and through the woods toward the clearing it had 
occupied at noon. 

The Twelfth had not proceeded far when Colonel Marsh, learning that 
Companies F and G had been left, by order of Colonel Bowman, com- 
manding the brigade, down in the meadow to cover his retreat, came 
riding back and found, as he feared, that these two companies had been 
left, and were still waiting orders a half-mile or more in the rear, where 
in a few moments more the)' would be marching to the rear of the rebel 
army as prisoners of war. 

Ordering the sergeant-major to run, as fast as he could, toward the 
front of the column and get orders from Colonel Bowman, or one of his 
staff, to take the companies off, Colonel Marsh rode back over the hill, 
and waited with them for a reply to his message. He was welcomed with 
almost tears of gladness by the men who expected every moment to be 

74 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

surrounded by the rebels who were already moving to cut off their retreat. 
Anxiously they waited, but not long, before thev heard, as a voice from 
the clouds, the glad words that came down to them from the sergeant on 
the hill-top. •• Bring them up." The sergeant-major, well nigh ex- 
hausted by his long, hard run (for he had done his best, fully realizing 
the critical condition of his comrades), sat down and rested as he waited 
to accompany the little rear guard that was coming. 

Soon he heard the double-quick tramp, and then the labored breathing 
from their hurry up the hill, and the next moment he was gladly with 
them in their rapid march to catch up with the regiment. 

This was the second time that Colonel Marsh had saved two companies 
of the regiment by his vigilance and resolution, — Company F being 
twice rescued bv him — for which he deserves full credit. 

The shadows of night were fa^t gathering, as Colonel Bowman's brig- 
ade emerged from the woods. The blaze of musketrv and the flash of 
artillerv at Hazel Grove and in the woods along the plank road beyond, 
plainly told, even if no sound had been heard, of the fierce struggle 
between the Blue and the Gray for its possession. The stampede of the 
Eleventh Corps, flying panic-stricken from the field, followed up by the 
desperate energy of Jackson s charging battalions, crazy with the excite- 
ment of the chase — for it had been, thus far. more of a chase than a 
fight — had carried fear and consternation into the ranks of the Union 
forces and threatened, at one time, the safety of the whole array But 
the stubborn resistance of Berry's veterans of the Third Corps with the 
bayonet, and the heroic sacrifice of Major Keenan and his brave tour 
hundred, who. with their sabres, cut their way through the rebel ranks to 
undying fame, had given time for Generals Sickles and Pleasanton, by 
the most energetic efforts, to get together and align a sufficient number of 
guns to check the hitherto resistless tide of Jackson's exultant legions. 

In the mean time, and at the most critical moment, when the sword of 
Damocles hung over the Federal commander, night and Jackson fell and 
the army was saved. 

It was just after twenty -two pieces of artillery double-shotted with 
canister, had covered the ground with rebel dead, and driven their sur- 
viving comrades back under cover of the woods, that the Twelfth reached 
the field of carnage, and was at once ordered up to the support ot the 
artillery It was placed in the immediate rear of one of the batteries, 
and Company F was sent forward and deployed near the edge of the 
woods, into which the rebels had just been driven, with orders not to reply 
to the enemy's fire, but to quickly fall back behind our batteries should 
he again advance in force during the night. This was to give the artil- 
lery another chance to reap a blood}' harvest. 

The Third Corps, of about fifteen thousand men, was now bunched up 
on a few acres of cleared ground, almost surrounded by the forest, filled 
with exultant rebels, who had already paralyzed and almost destroyed 

^Yczc Hampshire Volunteers. 75 

the effectiveness of one corps, and now seriously threatened the safety of 

Their charging screech and yell, that sounded like a commingled pack 
of wild-cats and wolves, had now ceased. But here and there in the 
distance a similar sound, in a minor key. heard at intervals until late in 
the night, told that the news of Jackson's great success was being 
heralded through their army, and, coming from almost everv direction, 
reminded some of the Twelfth boys of the story of the lost traveler, 
spending a cold, sleepless night alone in the wilderness, surrounded by 
howling wolves and beasts of prev 

These cheers — for such they were intended — heard in their rear as 
well as their front, were not very cheering sounds to the silently listening 
ranks of Sickles's brave men, who fully realized their situation, and 
seriously anticipated the struggle that awaited them. 

Thus cut off, and nearly surrounded, with only a narrow neck of 
swamp land, almost impassable, connecting him with the main army, the 
question for General Sickles to answer was, how he could best comply 
with the last order from General Hooker, to save his command if he 
could. Having, through the medium of a courier sent across the swamp, 
obtained permission, he resolved to make a midnight attack upon the 
enemy, which was so gallantly done by General Birney's division, charg- 
ing with fixed bayonets and uncapped pieces, that some of the Eleventh 
Corps guns and a part of the supply train lost by the Third Corps, were 
recaptured, and the enemy driven back through the woods beyond the 
plank road, thereby opening easy communication with Hooker's head- 
quarters at the Chancellor House. 

This brilliant charge was made just to the right of our own position, 
and, lighted up by the flash and blaze of the enemy's artillery and mus- 
ketry along the dark edge of the dense forest, for a background, was a 
scene that no one who saw and may read these lines will fail to recall. 

" By heavens! it was a glorious sight 
For him who had no brother there." 

Again the Twelfth Regiment was fortunate in being exposed only to the 
stray shots, instead of the direct fire of the foe, as it would have been 
had it arrived a little sooner upon the ground in the early evening, or had 
been a part of the charging column later in the night. But its turn in the 
sad havoc of war was soon to come. 

The men, with their clothes still wet from fording the deep brooks in 
the afternoon, suffered much, lying with chilled limbs and shivering 
bodies, uncovered upon the cold ground, with no chance to warm or 
scarcely to move. Few, if any, closed their eyes in sleep during that 
eventful night. Had their physical condition allowed, their thoughts 
were too sadly busy for the mind to acquiesce. The events of the day, 
the situation of the night, and the unavoidable strife of the coming mor- 

76 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

row, when the great battle so disastrously commenced, would be re- 
newed ; the piteous cries of the wounded, still lying uncared for around 
them, and the memory of home, and the loved ones there, whom, as all 
feared and many felt, they should never see again, all combined to give 
ample scope for serious reflection. 

Although thus far there was greater cause for joy than sorrow in the 
ranks of the Twelfth, yet, as " coming events cast their shadows before," 
there was a general feeling of apprehension, that the morrow would 
bring, as it did, the harvest of death. 

Just in rear of this night battle-line, for every man lay in file on his 
arms, there was an old stable, into which many of the wounded had been 
carried, and from which throughout the night came commingled moans 
and groans of the wounded and dying. The piteous, heart-piercing cries 
of one poor fellow, continuing until the angel of death heard and came 
to his relief, are still sounding through memory's half-deserted halls, and 
can only cease when he who heard them hears and feels no more. 

Colonels Potter and Marsh, and the kind-hearted "Old Major," as he 
was called, walked up and down the line, telling the boys to keep quiet 
and sleep, if they could, and they would stand guard over them for that 

They too well understood the meaning and effect of Jackson's unex- 
pected attack, the critical situation of Sickles's command, and the terrible 
struggle that must soon ensue, to think of rest or sleep for themselves. 

The moon, though full, soon veiled herself with thin clouds, which 
spread a shade of sombre sadness over the earth that seemed to fore- 
shadow the coming strife. 

But the slow and chilly hours of that night of doubt and fear went by 
at last. 

" And Sabbath's holy morn too soon appeared, 
To bring such awful strife." 

As soon as light both armies were standing to arms and ready for action. 

Sickles had received orders from his chief to withdraw, if possible, 
from his perilous position, and unite with the main army on his right. 
This was a request much easier to make than to comply with, and no 
sooner is the attempt made than the enemy objects, and the battle com- 

While the troops nearer to, or in the edge of the woods, are engaged 
in holding the forces of Jackson — now commanded by General Stuart — 
back at the point of the bayonet, the rest of the corps, not needed for 
immediate support, is being rapidly moved off to the new lines of de- 
fence, surrounding the open rise of cleared ground near the Chancellor 
House, known as Fairview. 

Whipple's division being, as we have seen, in reserve, and farthest 
from the woods, was first to move. Down through a narrow valley of 

J\ "<:":' Hampshire Volunteers. 77 

swamp land, partly covered with bushes, regiment after regiment fol- 
lowed each other in quick succession, until it was evident that Hazel 
Grove was to be abandoned to the surrounding lines of "butternut and 
gray." who were eagerly pushing forward on three sides, impatient to 
possess it. 

Hooker has been severely criticised for giving up that position, as it 
gave the enemy a convenient elevation upon which to mask his artillery 
and enfilade the Union lines. 

But how he could have held it without sacrificing one of his best fight- 
ing corps, we have never seen or heard explained. 

The Twelfth, passing for some distance beside a fence in this quick 
and short retreat, every man was ordered to shoulder a rail, the special 
purpose of which, to the explosion of a multitude of conjectures, was 
soon found to be the filling up of a miry creek so that the artillery could 
be safely hauled across. It was a novel but expeditious way of building 
a corduroy road, and proved useful to the builders as well as to the 
heavier arm of the service that was to follow 

After marching about half a mile to the eastward, and on a line nearly 
at right angles with the plank road, on either side of which the Confed- 
erates were already savagely pushing the fight, the regiment was halted, 
faced into line of battle, and ordered to lie down just in front of a couple 
of batteries that had taken position on the crest of a low sand ridge, and 
which now opened a rapid fire upon the woods in front. 

So close under the mouths of these guns did some of the men lie, that 
they were obliged to stop their ears and cover their faces to keep from 
being stunned and scorched bv the terrific howl and fiery breath of these 
fierce bull-dogs of war 

But soon their full-vented fury was checked by the order to cease fir- 
ing : and the regiment, marching by the right flank a few rods, is again 
faced to the front and advanced to the edge of a small stream — some of 
the right companies passing over it — and again ordered to lie down. 

The battle was now raging fiercely all around, and especially so as 
regards the position taken by Colonel Bowman's brigade, his being the 
third and last line of battle. Let us take a sweeping glance of this posi- 
tion and its immediate surroundings, that the reader may better under- 
stand the situation, and realize as best he can in imagination, the intro- 
ductory exercises of the occasion as witnessed and participated in by the 
Twelfth Xew Hampshire Volunteers. 

The sun — not, alas ! of Austerlitz — is now up, but the dew-exhaling 
mists mingling with the smoke of battle fill the air, through which his 
bright rays penetrate with a strange and lurid glare. 

From the woods in front comes a continuous roll of musketry. On the 
right and left, the sounds of deadly conflict come to our ears in startling 
detonations, now louder and nigher and now again decreasing and reced- 
ing like the wind waves of a mighty tempest. A few rods to the rear a 

78 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

score or more of brass and iron twelve-pounders are, with deafening 
reports sending twenty shells a minute over our heads, each screeching 
defiance to the rebel batteries, which, from the woods in front and from 
Hazel Grove elevation on the left, are as defiantly answering back and 
sending their bursting shells all around us. 

Between the little stream, that smoothly and quietly glides along this 
'' perilous edge of battle," as if undisturbed by the agitation of its kin- 
dred elements of earth and air, and the darker line of the forest, half a 
gunshot beyond, there is an open space of ground ascending gradually 
toward the woods, and thickly covered with dead sage grass, still stand- 
ing stiff and straight upon its soft carpet of vernal green, and through 
which the leaden messengers of death are cutting their way into our 
prostrate ranks lying face to the ground and head to the foe. 

Nothing but smoke can be seen of the terrible conflict going on in the 
woods in advance, but of its deadly strife the ear, though half-paralyzed 
by our own artillery close behind, too plainly tells. 

Regiments, torn and shattered, are seen retreating on the right and left, 
but some in Zouave uniform with apparently full ranks falling back from 
the enemy before having hardly engaged him. The other two regiments 
of the brigade — Eighty-fourth and One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylva- 
nia — are no longer to be seen upon the left, having advanced obliquely 
in that direction into the fight, followed by Colonel Bowman, who leaves 
the Twelfth New Hampshire to look after itself.* 

Along the open space in front, staff officers are swiftly dashing to and 
fro, and riderless horses running wild with fear ; while back across it, 
wounded men in constantly increasing numbers are coming, and here and 
there irregular squads — mostly of blue, but some in gray — like fragments 
torn from the contending lines by the shock of battle, are seen hastily 

On the right front, and about midway between the brook and the 
woods, lies another regiment, half-hidden in the tall, dead grass, await- 
ing like the Twelfth, the momentarily expected order to advance. 

Such, briefly sketched, was the position and situation of the regiment 
on the early morning of the third day of May, 1863. 

That it was not a very pleasant or encouraging one, the reader and 
writer will probably agree. It was certainly a realistic dramatization of 
the first part of Dante's Infer?io, and such as none who were there would 
care to witness or listen to again. 

Is it any wonder that some, who were not too anxious for their own 
safety to think of anything else, should have asked of themselves ques- 
tions like these : " Was it to avoid such a scene as this, that He, who 
knew and saw all from the beginning to the end, said ' resist not evil ? ' " 
"Must reason serve when passion rules; and yet reason, a Godlike 
attribute of man that raises him above, and contradistinguishes him from 

" Si'f Colonel Hall's letter and Colonel Bowman's report, post. 

JYezc Hampshire Volunteers. 70 

the brute?" And more natural, if less philosophical: " What would 
t/iev think at home if thev could see us nozvP" 

How long the regiment lay in this passive but trying position, obliged 
to receive but unable to return the enemy's fire, no one can tell or will 
ever know. To some it seemed not more than ten minutes, and to others 
an hour ; probably half-way between the two extremes would not be far 
from the correct time. It was, at any rate, long enough to make many 
vacant places in the ranks of three or four of the companies. 

Charles 3*1. Gilman, of Company A; Winsor P Huntress, of Company 
B ; and Henry R. Kidder, of Company D, were all struck in the head by 
musket balls and instantly killed. William B. Worth, of Company G, 
was shot in the side or breast, and died an hour afterward in the log 
house near bv, while others were more or less severelv wounded. 

A staff officer now rides up to Colonel Potter, and informs him that the 
regiment at the right front — regard for the State that sent it out, as well 
as for its colonel and a few of its officers and men, require that its name 
be not given — is to advance first, and his to follow and support it. A 
few moments later, and the long and loud command of attention is heard 
from the colonel of that regiment, as he rises from the ground, but only a 
few of his officers and men are seen to obey his order by showing their 
heads above the grass : and despite threats, curses, and kicks, with 
sword-pointed pricks, and broadside slaps, the men do not and will not 
move forward, or even rise from the ground, choosing to die like cowards 
where they lav, rather than to stand up and fight like men. 

Colonel Potter, seeing the vain attempt of getting the regiment that he 
was to follow started, called upon his own; and all, save the dead and 
dying, immediately arose and moved forward to the edge of the woods, 
along which a few trees had been felled the night before as a slight pro- 
tection from the enemy's fire. 

Here a halt was ordered, the colonel not caring to advance further, hav- 
ing alreadv exceeded his instructions, without further orders. He had not 
long to wait : for scarcely had the wounded who had been disabled on 
the advance from the brook been sent to the rear, before another order 
was delivered by the same officer who brought the last — both coming 
direct from General Whipple — which, considering its import and conse- 
quences, is here given in full : " You are ordered, Colonel Potter, to im- 
mediately advance your regiment into the woods, engage the enemy 
there, and hold him in check as long as ■possible," or, as some remember 
it, " until the last man falls ." 

Such an order, at such a time and place, was enough to make the stout- 
est heart quail ; for obedience to it meant that upon one single regiment ot 
less than six hundred officers and men, now for the first time under mus- 
ketry fire, must soon fall the whole weight of at least three times their 
number of the powder-stained veterans of " Stonewall " Jackson, whose 
fall the night before they had sworn to avenge, and who were, at that 

80 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

very moment, pressing eagerly and exultingly forward to complete a vic- 
tory which they confidently and correctly believed was already within 
their grasp. 

The reader will notice that the order was not to advance and drive the 
enemy from the woods. Oh, no ! not that; for General Whipple did not 
need his field-glass, as he stood upon the top of the little hill in the rear 
of his batteries, to see how wide the breach that the Twelfth was now left 
alone to fill. But it must be filled, or his division would soon be cut in 
twain, and all his batteries, in the enemy's possession or flying from the 
field. And hence the emphasis that this staff officer gave to the last and 
most important part of the order. "Hold in check" were the words, 
and they implied all, and more, than could be expected from any single 
regiment, for any length of time. But he knew Colonel Potter and his 
brave and able assistant Colonel Marsh, both of whom had fought with 
him in Mexico ; and he knew that they led men who were the descend- 
ants of the heroes of Bunker Hill and Bennington, and hoped that to 
such officers and men the words " as long as possible," or, " until the 
last man falls" might not be in vain, and he was not disappointed. 

Here, so far as can be seen through the smoke of the conflict, the 
Twelfth stands isolated and alone ; for even the cowardly skulks, who 
disgraced the flags of both their State and country, have disappeared to 
the flank or rear to save their craven hearts from the fate that awaited 
them in front. 

Whipple's batteries, on the sand hill behind, are still being served as 
rapidly as the over-heated guns will permit, and the battle is yet raging 
unabated on the right and left, where our line is evidently being driven 
slowly but surely back. 

Directly in front there is a lull, portentous of the fury of the quick 
recurring blast, whose coming is being heralded by that savage-like 
screech so well known to every old soldier as the " rebel yell." 

With nothing confronting them, they are cheering at their success and 
are rushing onward to meet and defeat the next Yankee line that dare 
oppose them. Indeed, from the very start, after reaching the woods, it 
was for the Twelfth a forlorn hope. 

" Forward," comes the quick and stern command from Colonel Potter, 
as he jumps forward himself from the top of the breastworks upon which 
he had been standing to get a better view of the ground before him. 

The right and centre at once obey, but on the extreme left the line 
officers not hearing, or failing to repeat the order, there was a slight delay 
in the starting of that wing, which the sergeant-major perceiving, but 
mistaking the cause, stepped to the front of the left company and ex- 
claimed "Forward, forward is the order; now is the time to show our- 
selves men." 

But the men no less than the officers understood and realized their 
duties and dangers, and were as ready and willing to meet them. 

S\ T czc Hampshire Volunteers. 81 

Observing that he was ascending quite an elevation that grew steeper 
as he advanced, and wishing to reach its height before the enemy, Colo- 
nel Potter gives the order to " double quick," and in less time than it 
can be written the regiment gained the crest, and sent a volley of " buck 
and ball," flanked by rifle Minies, into the close advancing lines of their 
country s foes. 

No sooner did Colonel Potter, who had gallantlv led his command 
from the time it entered the woods, discover the enemy's near approach, 
than, facing about, he halted the regiment, more by the motion of his 
extended arms than verbal order, and, pointing with his sword to the line 
of "'butternut and gray," said, "There the devils are, give them hell." 
The almost simultaneous vollev that instantly followed must have sharply 
reminded some of them that the battle-field is about as near that woful 
place as any other spot to be found on this mundane sphere. 

The right companies had no sooner given their first volley to the front 
than their attention is directed to quite a large battalion of the enemy 
marching obliquelv past them, as if intending to outflank their position 
and attack them in reverse. Companies C, K, and B half face to the 
right and open a well directed fire upon their flank. At the same time 
one of our batteries, on or near the plank road, gave them such a grape 
and canister reminder of their temeritv, that they went back over the 
hill much quicker than they came. 

The musketry duel, that now ensued between the "New Hampshire 
Mountaineers " and the Virginia Chivalry opposed to them, was one of 
the most desperate and destructive, for the time and number engaged, 
that ever was fought on any battle-field of the war It was the fiery im- 
petuositv of the South against the granite endurance of the North, never, 
on a small scale, better illustrated. 

Though not quite the irresistible meeting the immovable, it was a 
most desperate and determined "/ zvilV against an equally determined 
and more stubborn " you n'ont." 

The men began to fall as soon as they began to fire, the line so rapidly 
thinning that, within one half-hour, fully one third of the regiment were 
killed or wounded. 

Soon the tall, commanding form of Major Savage is no longer to be 
seen standing firm and resolute in the midst of the battle, for a bullet has 
pierced his lower jaw, compelling him to leave the field with a ghastly 
wound. His brother, Captain Savage, of Company A, is breathing his 
last beside the stream in the rear to which he has been carried. Captain 
Keyes lies dead on the battle-line, where he fell while defiantly waving 
his sword in the face of the foe. Captain Durgin has been shot through 
the body and lies dying, as supposed, at the foot of a tree ; and Lieuten- 
ant Cram, just promoted from the ranks, is lying lifeless among his dead 
comrades, while Captain May, disabled at the edge of the woods, and 

82 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

other line officers have been more or less seriously wounded, and every 
company has been two or three times decimated in its rank and file. 

Yet the battle, so desperately begun, goes bravely on, the fire of the 
enemy seemingly increasing as that of the regiment diminishes. 

About this time there was an attempt of about fifty of the enemy to 
make a charge upon our centre and capture the colors. But it was only 
an attempt, for part of the number turned back, when little more than 
well started, and the bravely foolish few who kept on, were most all cut 
down by the converging fire of the right and left centre companies. 

Directly following this, as if maddened by their failure to either drive 
or capture, the storm of leaden hail that poured into the now fast thin- 
ning ranks of the regiment seemed like a withering blast that must 
soon destroy all opposition. 

So hot was the fire upon the centre, that the color bearers were both 
wounded, and a few of the men on the right and left of the colors gave 
back a little, seeing which, Colonel Potter sprang forward and urged 
his men to stand firm and hold their line good. There was no attempt 
to retreat or purpose to yield any ground to the enemy, for every man 
standing, except the wounded, still faced the foe, but it was like the 
tough oak in the tempest blast, which bends but does not break. 

A moment later and Colonel Potter himself was wounded and carried 
from the field, followed by Sergeant McDuffee, who, though severely 
wounded, still held on fast to his standard — the state colors — that up 
to this time he had bravely up-borne, a part of the time in advance of 
the line. 

The national colors are still waving defiantly in their place on the 
battle-line, but the stout and brave-hearted Sergeant Tasker can no longer 
bear them, for he has been disabled by a severe wound. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, who has been everywhere present on the 
right wing of the regiment directing the fire and praising the steady, 
veteran-like action of the men, receives a bullet in his leg just after the 
colonel was disabled by a similar wound, and is obliged to leave the 

Captains Lang, Barker, and Shackford, all nobly worthy to command 
the heroic fighters of their respective companies, are no longer permitted, 
by reason of wounds, to lead them; while Lieutenants Smith, Huntoon, 
Edgerly, Tilton, Milliken, Sargent, Heath, Fernal, and Bedee have all 
received blood-signed and bullet-sealed passes to the rear, but the last 
named refuses to use his for that purpose, preferring to stay and fight 
with the few brave men left on the field, some of whom, like himself, are 
bleeding from their wounds. 

Two first, and three or four second lieutenants — among whom are Mor- 
rill, French, and Dunn, not already mentioned — are the only commissioned 
officers now left alive on the field; and of the five and one half hundred 
of the rank and file that opened fire upon the enemy an hour and a half 

JTezi' Hampshire 1'olunteers. 83 

ago, not more than one fourth remain to hold the ground upon which are 
lying so many of their dead and wounded comrades. 

But still the fight goes on, and the steel-nerved and iron-hearted men 
from New Hampshire are proving about as firm and reliable, and making 
themselves a name as enduring as the granite of their native hills. 

But the terrible experience of the last hour and a half has taught them 
a lesson that each one is now practicing : for every man has his tree 
behind which he is fighting, though most of the trees are too small to 
afford but a partial protection from the rebel bullets. 

Some have already used their last cartridge, and are getting more from 
the cartridge-boxes of the dead. Many of the muskets have become 
useless and been discarded for others picked up from the ground, or 
taken from the hands of the wounded, while those remaining whole have 
become so foul that the cartridges can only be driven down their barrels 
by punching the ramrods against a tree. 

From their advance into the woods up to this time the unflinching 
heroes of the Twelfth have breasted the battle-storm alone, no other regi- 
ment having been seen that wore the blue, except one belonging to 
another brigade, that had been lying in the edge of the woods, some 
distance to the right and rear, and which arose and gallantly charged the 
flanking column of the enemy, before referred to, just after its discom- 
fiture from the oblique fire of the Twelfth and the battery that opened 
upon it, capturing one of the rebel battle-flags, and then fell back over 
the brow of the hill and was seen no more. 

But now, or about this time, a Zouave regiment appears on the left and 
the remaining braves of the Twelfth, who have only been saved so long 
by fighting in Indian style, hope for such active cooperation as will at 
least engage the attention of the foe in front and detract somewhat his 
concentrated fire upon themselves. But their hope is vain, for as seen at 
the opening of the battle, there was more show than fight in most of the 
Zouave troops. Xo sooner do they get up near the level range of flying 
lead, than they flatten out upon the ground, under cover of the brow of the 
hill, where they remain a few minutes, and then rising up and discharging 
one volley — their bullets going fifteen or twenty feet above the heads of the 
rebels — they retreat, as their historian will probably say, quickly, but in 
good order to avoid capture. And such a statement, considering the 
situation, ought not, perhaps, to be considered altogether inexcusable, 
although it would be doing much less violence to the truth to substitute 
the word fighting in the place of " capture" ; for there was quite as good 
a chance to practice the one at the risk of the other, as when the Twelfth 
was ordered in, and found not even the fragment of a regiment engaged 
with the enemy or anywhere in sight. 

The situation of what remained of the regiment had now become des- 
perately critical and hazardous — a mere handful of men trying to fill 
and hold a wide breach which must soon be closed up by the enemy 

84 Hist or v of the Twelfth Regiment 

It is only a question of a few swift-flying moments. Yet more swiftly 
from the hot-barreled muskets of three or four score men, behind as many 
bullet-scarred and shell-splintered trees, round ball, buck-shot, and Minie- 
bullets are still being hurled against the foe.* 

About this time Lieutenant Morrill, of Company D. seeing that but a score 
or two of men remained, and thinking doubtless that further resistance 
would be more foolish than braye, informed Lieutenant Bedee, command- 
ing Company G, that he was the ranking officer left on the field, and that 
retreat or capture seemed the only alternative. 

This officer, who had been too earnest and active in the fight to notice 
before that most all the officers were killed or wounded, and he in 
command of what was left of the regiment, at once aroused himself 
to a full sense of the responsibility so unexpectedly thrown upon him. 
But retreat being to him a better word for the timid than the brave, and 
remembering that the order to Colonel Potter was to hold the ground to 
the last moment, determined to continue the fight while he took a swift 
survey of the field, to see if that moment had actually arrived. 

But fearing, from the way the bullets were still flying, that unless 
something was at once done there would be none left for either capture 
or retreat, he gave the command, " Lax down,'" wisely intending to save 
his men while he decided what to do. But Sergeant-Major Bartlett, who 
had been watching the enemy's movements, knowing that to obey the 
order would be but saving the few fortunate enough to be alive, for 
lingering deaths from starvation in rebel prisons, immediately sprang to 
the side of Lieutenant Bedee and commenced to remonstrate. But 
scarcely had he uttered a word before the latter, looking in the direction 
indicated by the sergeant's finger, where a force of the enemy could be 
plainly seen marching close around their left, instantly straightened up 
from his slightly bent position (as he stooped to listen to the sergeant who 
was shorter and stood lower), swung his sword around and high above his 
head, and, with a voice that must have been heard, if not understood, by 
the rebels themselves, gave this order : " Rally 'round the flag, boys, and 
get out of this." 

Thinking, by the first part of the order, that the lieutenant could see one 
of the flags somewhere there was a moment's delay in obeying the last 
and much more important part. But it was only a moment, or nearer the 
sixtieth part of one, before every man was using all the reserve strength 
left in him to "get out" in the quickest possible time. 

Someone has said, who pretended to know, as being present, that the 
little squad left of the regiment retreated as coolly and deliberately as 
they fought ; that they rallied around and formed a line on the colors, 
both in the centre, and marched out of the woods as slowly and in as 
good order as the)- marched in. This all sounds and reads well enough, 

" Some of the rebels said after the, that it was the lirst time they ever knew grape and can- 
ister used by infantry. 

Aczi' Hampshire l^ohintccrs. 85 

but nothing could be farther trom the truth. First, there were no colors 
in si<;ht to rally round, and second, instead of " slowly" and in " good 
order," it was every one for himself, and the Devil, or one of his 
hell-pens of the South, for the hindermost. 

How the state colors were saved by their gallant bearer has already 
been related, and how the stars and stripes were saved from capture will 
be found recorded in the history of the colors. 

From the quick change of orders, and the vehement and explosive em- 
phasis that Lieutenant Bedee put upon the word "out" in his last one, 
the men at once understood that retreat had been already too long de- 
layed, and that it was their legs and not their muskets that must now save 
them. But they did not then know that the door to the narrow and only 
avenue of escape was swiftly swinging to its close. 

Ten minutes later and it would have been shut and bolted, and every 
one captured or shot. 

The enemy, on either side, was far beyond the position held by the 
Twelfth before that position was abandoned. On the right, he had ad- 
vanced along the plank road, near which the regiment fought, more than 
half a mile to its rear, captured a part of a battery on Fairview, and 
was already engaging the rallying line of the Third Corps near the Chan- 
cellor House : while on the left, die rebel force had taken and held the 
whole of the ground from Hazel Grove, where the fight first commenced 
in the morning, to the western slope of the Chancellorsville plateau. 

Thus it can be seen, as will be proved by the best authority, that the 
Twelfth for some time had been fighting and desperately trying to hold 
its ground in the very midst of the enemy ; that it had fought for at least 
two hours, and held in check for that time a much larger force of the 
enemy, without assistance or support worthy of mention, and, except for 
a few minutes, single handed and alone ; and that at the time of its 
retreat it was over half a mile in advance of the nearest organized Union 
force, small or great, in the corps, or anywhere in that part of the field.* 

It should be stated here that, of the fifty men and officers that were 
taken prisoners in this battle, nearly all had been wounded and were 
captured as far back as the brook and sand hill directly in the rear of 
where the regiment was then fighting. 

On the retreat, after crossing the brook, most of the scattered squad 
obliqued a little to the righ^ in order to flank the steepest part of the hill, 
and came very near running directly into the rebel lines ; a sharp turn 
and a favoring angle of elevation saving many of them from the leveled 
rifles of the waiting rebels, who demanded their surrender. 

Though thus narrowly escaping capture or death, their course was the 
best left them, for had they taken a direct one, many more would 
have been shot down before reaching the top of the hill. That any of 
the few who took the latter course lived to reach the Chancellor House is 
little less than a miracle. 

* See General Sickles's statement and Captain Hall's letter at the end of this chapter. 

86 History oj the Twelfth Regiment 

That the national colors of the regiment, that went down with him who 
bore them, were not captured by the exultant and sanguine victors of the 
field, pressing close behind, ere they ever safely scaled the hill-top, was 
certainly providential. 

When the nearly exhausted few — not more than twentv-five or thirty 
at the most — emerged from the ravine where they last encountered the 
foe, and showed their blue uniforms on the lower side of Fairview, the 
quick eve of General Sickles, who was watching the swift approaching 
lines of gray, caught sight of them, and spurring his horse to the front 
of his guns, double shotted with grape and canister, shouted out in frantic 
tones to his gunners about to pull the lanyards: " Hold on there; hold 
your Jirc ; those are my men in front .'" 

The foremost line of the enemy — if line it could be called, for they 
came out of the woods in squads so eager were they in their pursuit — 
had reached the top of the hill, in plain sight of the reserve line of the 
Third Corps, when the small remnant of blue suddenly came into view 
but little ahead of their pursuers, and taking a diagonal course that 
brought them directly between the Confederate advance and a part of 
Sickles's artillery that in a moment more would have opened, as a few 
minutes later it did, and swept the field. 

Thus by the quick eye and timely action of their gallant corps com- 
mander, the bullet-proof survivors of the last regiment of that corps to 
leave the field were rescued from final destruction about to burst from the 
muzzles of their own guns. 

Seeing the reception awaiting them at the Chancellor Mouse, near 
which General Sickles had placed his artillery, the rebels stopped to close 
up and reform their lines. 

In the mean time Lieutenant Bedee, getting himself and men into some- 
thing of the shape of leader and led, with Second Lieutenants French 
and Dunn and his lieutenant-colonel and major, had reached the reserve 
line and reported to General Sickles himself, who, amid the cheers of his 
men, rode forward to meet him. 

" What regiment, and where 's the rest of it ?" 

" Tzvelfth Xcw Hampshire, and here's zchafs left of it." 

'• Fall in, my brave men, and help us hold this line." 

" But we're all out of ammunition, General." 

'•'■Pass to the rear then, quick, and give my guns a chance" 

A minute or two later and the rescued few were seeking a safe spot to 
rest in the woods in the rear, while our artillery was cutting wide gaps 
through the enemy's lines in the opposite direction. 

The Third Corps, which from early morn had borne the brunt of the 
fight, and been pushed slowly back, until despairing of any assistance, it 
had here taken its last stand, its brave commander plainly seeing that his 
further retreat was General Hooker's defeat, for the Federal line would be 
severed at the centre. 

S\ r ezr Hampshire Volunteers. 87 

He had called and called, but all in vain, for reinforcements ; and even 
then a single division from the First or Fifth Corps, impatiently waiting 
within quick supporting distance for the long expected order to move for- 
ward to the relief of their comrades, would have changed the disastrous 
opening of the day into a glorious victory before its close. 

But the decisive hour came and went, and with it the last chance to 
retrieve the sad fortune of that sad Sabbath service to the God of battles 
and His holv cause of freedom. 

General Hooker, disabled by a shell, could no longer direct nor con- 
trol ; General Couch, second in command, did not know, it seems, what 
to do, nor have the courage to do what he knew ; and General Mead, at 
the vital moment, while Hooker was still unable to act and Couch could 
not be found, though requested by his superiors and earnestly solicited by 
his subordinates, dare not take the responsibility, and refused even to send 
a single regiment from his own command to the support of General 
Sickles, whom he well knew was hard pressed and could not longer hold 
his important position. 

"Thus all in vain are thousands slain, 
For want of a little nerve and brain." 

General Doubleday says : •• The Third Corps left their last position 
at Chancellorsville slowlv and sullenly. * * * A single division 
thrown in at this time would have retrieved the fortunes of the day "* 

From what has alreadv been written, it will be seen that when General 
Sickles retreated back to his last position, near the Chancellor House, 
he left one of his regiments, still stubbornly fighting the enemy in the 
woods, more than half a mile in front of his new line of defense ; and, 
as will be seen hereafter, that neither he nor either of its own division and 
brigade commanders knew where it was, or what had become of it. 

Why this regiment, whose actual part and place in the battle of Chan- 
cellorsville is but little better known now than then, so far as any official 
report of its heroic acts has ever been made, was thus left to fight out its 
own fate, without others to support or orders to retreat, is one of the many 
army blunders, softly called oversights, the cause of which thorough in- 
vestigation would discover not far from the wall-tent entrance of official 

One, who had the best mind and means to know whereof he affirmed, 
has said, " It .was because the d n staff officers didn't know any- 
thing." But, whoever was responsible, field commanders or their staff, 
the consequences were none the less lamentable, and many brave men of 
the Twelfth on this day, like scores of thousands during the war, were 
needlessly sacrificed. 

And yet there are, perhaps, better reasons to pity than to blame; for it 
is only those rare intellectual faculties, that are still more rarely found 

* See Scribner's "Campaign of the War," pages 50-55. 

88 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

united in the same subcranium organization, that can make a great 

And of the thousands of subordinate officers necessary to the make-up 
of a great army, there are comparatively few who are cool and collected 
enough to perceive their duty, and brave enough to perform it on the Held 
of battle. 

Scarcely had Lieutenant Bedee taken his little command through the 
line before he was hit in the head by a piece of shell, which crazed him 
for a time, and Lieutenant French, wearing straps without a single bar, 
had now the honor of commanding the regiment. 

From colonel to a second lieutenant, twenty-eight officers reduced to 
two, and only about a score left together out of more than five hundred 
and fifty enlisted men that went into the fight, is a sad but truthful pen 
picture of the Twelfth New Hampshire Regiment as it fell back beyond 
the reach of rebel bullets at Chancellorsville. 


Chancellors ville. 


The battle was now nearly over, and yet the day was not half spent. 
Wellington at Waterloo, when it seemed, as the sun was going down, that 
he could but little longer withstand the terrible assaults of Napoleon's 
victorious legions without immediate assistance, is said to have prayed for 
Blucher or night. 

Hooker needed neither reinforcements to advance, nor darkness to cover 
his retreat, for thirty-five thousand fresh troops stood waiting at his elbow 
Why he did not use them will be considered later in this chapter 

The Confederates had " fought like devils,'" but the very desperation of 
their onslaught had well nigh exhausted them, and but little more than 
the momentum of the crushing and almost resistless battle-ball hurled by 
them with such force earlier in the day, was left to complete the victory 

But the Federal troops had been as stubborn to resist as the Confeder- 
ates had been impetuous to attack, and even more so in some parts of the 
field. The Third Corps held its ground for more than three hours against 
superior numbers on its front and flank, and exposed, part of the time, to 
an enfilading fire from the enemy's guns at Hazel Grove ; retreating at 
last, as we have seen, " slowly and in good order," and wanting but little 
support to have held their position to the last. 

Had the enemy followed up his advantage with the same boldness and 
energy that he showed and exercised in gaining it, the effect might have 
been a complete rout of the Union forces, and the result much more dis- 
astrous than it was. 

That General Lee did not push his advantage Sunday afternoon evinced 
quite unmistakably that his best foot had been put forward at the start, 
and that the other was getting lame and weary That he was losing 
strength much faster than he was gaining ground was apparent to every 
corps commander on the field. 

It has frequently been said by ex-Confederate soldiers who were there, 
and nearly always referred to by them when speaking or writing of this 
battle, that the Yankees fought more determinedly at Chancellorsville 
than in any other battle where they ever had the honor of exchanging 
compliments with them. And this is undoubtedly true, for in no other 

90 History of the Tzvclftli Regiment 

battle of the East did the Union troops have so much confidence in their 
leader or so strong a hope of winning a complete and decisive victory 

But however good their courage and strength, there were some regi- 
ments that, like the Twelfth, had long breasted the storm at the front, 
sadly wanting now that the battle for them was over, in the last named 
element of combativeness. The courage of the few brave '' Moun- 
taineers" who had escaped the terrrible carnage of the field, though 
somewhat diminished, was still sufficient again to dare, but their strength 
to do was almost gone. 

No one who has never been there himself can have any adequate idea 
how exhaustive to the vital forces is the struggle for victory between con- 
tending forces on the field of battle. The muscular power is usually 
severely taxed by long and forced marches, and want of sleep and rest, 
before reaching the field of conflict ; and then comes the great strain upon 
the nerves, without the aid of which all the muscles are but inert weight 
to cumber instead of aid. So that when the excitement of the battle is 
over, and the nerves relax, the combatant finds himself almost as weak 
and fatigued as if he had just recovered from a long sickness. 

Such was the condition of the survivors of the Twelfth, as they passed 
through the reserve line to the rear and sought a place of rest in the 
woods beyond. It was at this time that Captain Hall, of Whipple's staff, 
who, by the order of his chief, had been for some time hunting for it, 
found the regiment and conducted it back out of range of the enemy's 
shells. Up to this time, nothing had been known of the position or con- 
dition of the regiment by either Colonel Bowman or General Whipple. 

After several hours of rest, lying at full length upon the dry leaves, 
where most or all of them fell asleep, the fifty or more that had already 
found and gathered around the colors formed a rallying nucleus for those 
who were still hunting for the regiment ; and toward night, they, with 
others that had come in, were ordered back to the river to find a place to 
bivouac and reorganize. 

Marching slowly and wearily along, and halting every little while to 
rest, they at last reached the river, as tired as if they had marched all day 
instead of only two or three miles. Here fires were kindled and efforts 
made by those who were able — for some actually were not — to make a 
cup of coffee and to roast a piece of pork, for notwithstanding a large 
part of their five days' uncooked rations was still in their knapsacks, their 
stomachs were as empty as their cartridge-boxes. 

About 12 o'clock that night the whole division was called to arms 
by a sudden and spiteful outburst of musketry on the picket line ; but in 
a few moments all was again quiet along the Rappahannock, and the men 
gladly resumed their restful slumber. 

The next morning's roll-call found but ninety-seven men and four offi- 
cers of the Twelfth present for dutv This remnant was organized into a 
small battalion of four companies, commanded by Lieutenants Fernal, 

-Vrii' Hampsiiirc Volunteers. gi 

Smith. French, and Dunn ; and Capt. John F Langley, who had been 
for some time acting as assistant inspector of the brigade, was returned 
to his regiment and took command. Lieutenant Dunn wrote in his 
diary, under this date: "Who would have thought, nine months ago, 
when I enlisted as a private, that I should have command of the remnants 
of two companies of the regiment now ? " 

General Whipple, having got the regimental fragments of his division 
into marching shape, if not fighting condition, once more, advanced again 
to the front. But he had fought his last battle, and this was his last 
march. An hour or two later he was shot by a rebel sharpshooter, and, 
while being carried from the field, expressed the hope that he might live 
long enough to give Colonel Potter and his brave men a just report. 
That he did not is greatly to be regretted. But the fact that, while bleed- 
ing and dying, the thought should have even entered his mind, to say 
nothing of its open expression as one of his last and most earnest wishes, 
proves conclusively that he fully recognized and appreciated their heroic 
deeds and great services, and had determined that full justice should be 
done them upon the lasting records of their country- 
There was no fighting during the day, and the whole division was priv- 
ileged to rest in reserve. At midnight, when all save the corps com- 
manders and the watchful pickets were sleeping, a council of war was 
held in the tent of the commander-in-chief. Of all the things done, or left 
undone, in General Hooker's whole military career, none, as it has seemed 
to many, was so indefensible and so strangely in contrast with himself — 
read and judged bv his past military record — as his decision, with three 
to two of his corps commanders against him, to retreat without further 
effort from the battle-field of Chancellorsville. 

The following was a day of preparation to do what the previous night 
had decided. One hundred men from the Twelfth — leaving but a guard 
behind — in charge of Lieutenants Fernal and Smith, were sent down 
near the river to throw up entrenchments. They were ordered to leave 
their knapsacks, muskets, and all equipments except their canteens in the 
care of those who were to remain in camp. 

Near noon, thick, threatening clouds quickly gathered overhead, from 
which soon fell such torrents of rain as drenched everything above the 
ground and flooded that. An army overcoat was about as much protec- 
tion against it as a linen duster in a smart April shower. In short, it was 
the eruption of an aerial volcano from which came not only a deluge of 
water, but fish, toads, frogs, and snakes, that are not supposed to have 
their habitations above. Fish six or eight inches long were found on the 
ground after the shower. 

This cloud-burst, as it seemed to be, though anything but pleasant 
to the men watching or working in the trenches, was a merciful God- 
send to the wounded, many of whom were still lying on the field unpro- 
tected, except by the shade of the trees. It allayed the inflammation of 

92 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

their wounds, checked the fever that was burning them up, and gave 
them a fresh and bountiful supply of ozone from nature's own laboratory 
Thus by the copious tears that the heavens shed upon the wounded and 
dying, after every great battle, are the sufferings of thousands relieved, 
and the lives of hundreds saved. 

As night approached it had become an open secret to even the rank 
and file, that a speedy retreat was contemplated : though some would not 
allow themselves to believe what, at the same time, from accumulating 
evidences, they could not well doubt. 

The men on detail had not yet returned, and much anxiety was ex- 
pressed lest their muskets, equipments, and knapsacks would have to be 
destroyed. These fears were realized when, just as it was growing dark, 
orders came to destroy everything that could not be carried. 

Knapsacks were piled up and burned, together with what muskets and 
equipments remained after the men had taken as many as they could or 
would carry across the river. Many a dearly cherished keep-sake or 
picture of mothers, wives, and children at home, or who had gone to 
their long homes since the Twelfth boys last bade them adieu were con- 
sumed in the flames that burned up their knapsacks and clothing. Some 
of their owners, finding that the arm}- was to retreat, and permission to 
return for their knapsacks denied them, took their chances to do so" 
despite orders to the contrary, and hurried back in the darkness to find 
only a pile of smouldering ashes in the place where they had left them. 

From about 8 o'clock until near midnight the regiment stood in line, 
under a drizzling rain, ready to march, with strict orders for no man to 
leave the ranks. This delay was because of the swollen condition of the 
river, making it almost impossible for the pontonniers to keep the bridge 
from being swept away- But bridge or no bridge to retreat over, sleep the 
men must have, for they were falling asleep and into the mud at the same 
time. The men were therefore allowed to lie down, in place, and sleep 
in the bed of mud and water until between one and two in the morning, 
when they were aroused from their water-soaked and mud-stuck rubber 
blankets, and started at last for the crossing. It was all daylight before 
the regiment recrossed the river, on the safe side of which were found 
some of its officers and men pleading sickness or slight wounds as an ex- 
cuse for not being in the fight at all or leaving the regiment and field 
before their comrades who stuck by the colors, and whom they now 
seemed very glad to see and join on their homeward march back to camp. 
A field hospital had been established here which the rebels a clay or two 
before had shelled. A squad of rebel prisoners near by complained for 
being exposed to the fire of their own guns. " I reckon youans can stand 
it if iveuns, can" was the mimicking response of one of the wounded lying 
helpless on the ground. 

It was a long, hard march, through mud beneath and rain above, from 
United States Ford back to the old camping-ground at Falmouth. 

~Yc it.' Hampshire Uo/u/t/ccrs. 93 

Not even the o-lad thought that thev were still alive, and marching 
toward safety and rest in their old quarters, was enough to sustain many 
of those who had not half recovered from the shock and strain of battle, 
and thev were obliged to fall out all along the march, some within sight 
of their own company grounds, their wearied limbs being unable to sus- 
tain them further without rest. 

It was late in the afternoon before the wet and wearied tew who were 
strong enough to keep along with the colors, ended their slow and toil- 
some march : and sad and solemn indeed was the scene of their late 
happv encampment, now silent, tentless, and disconsolate. 

As the shades of evening gathered around, and no sound of fife or 
bugle reached the ear, it seemed like the silent, solemn gloom of the 

But the men were too tired even for serious reflections, and as soon as 
their shelter-tents could be spread as a roof over their water-soaked 
quarters, thev lav down in their wet blankets to steam and dream away 
their first full night's rest since the last thev spent there. 

For the following two days the usual routine of camp duties were en- 
tirely suspended, and rest alone was all that was required of officers or 

But what a solemn, death-like silence reigned. The camp seemed like 
a gravevard, and everv tenantless and dismantled quarter, with its walls 
and chimney standing as left, like a tombstone. 

Who that was there ever did or ever will forget the first roll-call in that 
camp after its reoccupancv ? 

With tearful eves and choked utterances the living present respond 
as their names are called, for the occasion too sadly reminds them of the 
brave and loved comrades and tent-mates among the absent wounded and 
the dead. And when at the close of the same clay the drum-corps, for 
the first time after its return, played the "retreat"; it sounded like a 
funeral dirge. 

The following memoranda are copied from the author's diary : 

Mav 7, 1S63. — Rained last night, cloudy and sombre like to-day. Tremen- 
dous cold storm ; everything" drenched and covered with water and mud. It is 
sad and gluomv, like a funeral, as indeed to us it is, of many brave and cherished 
comrades. The many vacant quarters in the company lines tell but too plainly 
of the terrible havoc of war. 

May 8. 1S63. — Rain again in the night, and another dull and cloudy day. It 
seems as if the heavens weep by night and put on the veil of mourning by day 
in sorrow for the fallen heroes, who but yesterday "were here, but to-day sleep 
beneath tbe blood-soaked sod where they fell. 

On Saturday news came that Chaplain Ambrose was killed near the 
Chancellor House, where he had been last seen, assisting the wounded 
off the field. 

94 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

The next day the chaplain of Berdan's Sharpshooters kindly volun- 
teered to preach a sermon of sympathy and consolation to the sorrow- 
stricken remnant of the once large and happy family of the Twelfth ; 
and the skeleton squads, marching out of the company grounds to form 
a regimental line, for the first time since the retreat from Chancellorsville, 
was a sight too sad for eyes undimmed with tears. 

The day following, the whole division was called out to listen to the 
announcement of General Jackson's death. 

On the 15th the camp was joyfully surprised by the arrival of Colonel 
Potter and Chaplain Ambrose from the battle-field ; the former a paroled 
prisoner and badly wounded, on his way to Washington, and the latter 
safe and sound, though believed to be dead, to continue his work of 
mercy and kindness in hospital and camp. 

The loss of the colonel to the regiment was deeply felt, but the loss of 
the chaplain would have been much more lamented. 

" It seemed good to hear his voice again" wrote one of his little flock 
after listening to his first sermon to them after returning to camp. 

From the 18th to the 24th the men were busy tearing down and clear- 
ing away the old quarters, mostly unoccupied since the battle, and erect- 
ing new and smaller ones, to accommodate the few left for duty 

About this time a petition to Governor Berry was circulated and signed 
by most all of the officers and men, asking that the regiment be sent 
home to recruit. 

This, as understood, was favorably received, and but for the early move 
of the army in the chase after General Lee toward Washington, efforts 
would have been made through the War Department for that purpose. 

A letter was received from Governor Berry stating that he would try 
and get permission for the regiment to go home and recruit, or a place for 
it in some fort. There was some fear that the regiment would be broken 
up and the men put into other organizations. This, as the reader will 
remember, would have been a violation of the original compact, and the 
venerable and patriotic Samuel Berry, of Barnstead, N. H., wrote a let- 
ter to the Governor, earnestly remonstrating against such a course and 
eloquently pleading that its record, though brief, was too glorious to end 
until the war ended. 

May 27th, there were only one hundred and twenty-seven men for duty 
Three days later the whole regiment — one hundred and twenty-six men 
and five officers — went out on picket for the same length of time. It was 
fine weather and some of the younger ones amused themselves, when not 
on duty, in building miniature dams across a creek, and erecting rude 
mill structures thereon with improvised gates, water-wheels, etc. 

Colonel Berdan, noticing the playwork while riding by, stopped and 
curiously inspected the same, and then remarked, " None but New 
England boys could do that," and expressed the hope that he should see 
them building real mills on a larger scale some day Though a matter 

^\"ezi' Hampshire Volunteers. 95 

of little or no importance, it is alluded to here because it illustrates how 
little things are noticed by great men, and especially if they happen to 
tangent upon or come within the circle of their own genius. 

Colonel Berdan was a New England bov himself and had passed some of 
the happiest of his youthful days in constructing water-wheels of different 
kinds and sizes and seeing them revolve in the little brook that ran close 
bv his father's house. It was the first indication of that inventive and 
creative power that afterward produced the Berdan rifle, which was 
adopted by the Government, and many other useful inventions that gave 
him a national reputation. In the battle of Chancellorsville he com- 
manded the Third Brigade of Whipple's division. This brigade was 
composed of the First and Second United States Sharpshooters, and were 
armed with Sharpe's breech-loading rifles. The men wore a dark green 
uniform, as least likelv to betray their presence and position to the enemy 
when lying in the grass or skirmishing through the woods. Selected, as 
they were, from among the best shots in the arm}-, and armed with the 
best small arm then in general use in the service, with a chaplain who 
sometimes went with them to the front, carrying a telescope rifle with 
which he could dismount a general field officer a mile or more away, it is 
no wonder that they were greatly feared by the rebels who called them 
" Green Coated Devils," or " Snakes in the Grass." 

They were chiefly emploved as skirmishers and flankers, for which 
places they were especially fitted, but sometimes, as in Chancellorsville, 
presented themselves in solid line of battle. It is hazarding but little to 
say that no body of troops of twice their number did more effective 

June came in with a hurricane wind that filled the tents with dust and 
sand and blew over many of the chimneys. The tent ropes of the offi- 
cers' quarters had to be tightened by driving the stakes more securely 
into the ground, and extra efforts were necessary to keep the regimental 
hospital tent from blowing down. 

It had been warm and dry for some time, with a few days exceedingly 
hot for May, and the dust, which had been getting daily more and more 
unpleasant and annoying, filling the air at every movement and slight 
breeze, was now up and out in full force, as if on a holiday march, and 
sweeping down the parade-ground in solid, cloud-like battalions at every 
recurring gust. Of course such violent exercise of the aerial element 
soon produced perspiration, and the next day it rained. 

The regiment was called into line at the first dawn of light on the 
morning of the 4th, and stood to arms ready to march at a moment's 
notice for two hours or more. This was because of a reported movement 
of the rebel cavalry 

June 5th, heavy firing was heard in the afternoon in the direction of 
Fredericksburg, and it was soon correctly reported in camp that a part of 
our forces had again crossed the river at or near that place. 

96 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

It was now quite evident to General Hooker that the Confederate army 
was on the move, and this reconnoissance across the river was to ascertain 
if anything more than a strong picket show had been left at Fredericks- 
burg. Finding the enemy still there in force, General Hooker, though 
satisfied that a part of Lee's army had been withdrawn, decided to wait 
and watch until he could get more definite information of his movements. 
He soon became convinced that the army of Northern Virginia with Lee 
at its head was moving rapidly northward. It could mean but one thing, 
and that, another bold raid into the North. 

The next day occasional firing was heard at or near Fredericksburg, 
and the sick in camp were removed to the division hospital. It was use- 
less to dispute, for indications and reports all pointed toward that conclu- 
sion, that another campaign was about to open and that there was more 
hard marching and fighting soon to come for the Army of the Potomac. 

Letter from Colonel Hall. 

The following is from a letter written March 21, 1892, by Col. Daniel 
Hall, late Department Commander of New Hampshire, G. A. R., who 
was captain on General Whipple's staff at the battle of Chancellorsville : 

I well remember the Twelfth Regiment and when it was posted in the edge ot 
the woods below the Chancellor House. It got separated, by some chance, 
pretty essentially from the rest of the division. I rather think its separation was 
brought about by its fighting better and more doggedly maintaining its position. 
Part of the division was on the right and part on the left of the plank road, and 
not closely connected. The Pennsylvania regiments (very small ones) brigaded 
with the Twelfth were not ranged with it on the line of battle, but, as I now 
remember, were posted in reserve or to guard its flanks and were dispersed or 
driven back before the Twelfth was.* 

General Whipple and his staff were attending rather more to the rest of the 
division, because, as I remember perfectly well, he had full confidence in the 
Twelfth and its commander, Colonel Potter, and believed it would hold its 
ground as long as possible. 

After our line was broken almost everywhere and the army was practically 
driven from its position, and a retreat or rout was imminent, this regiment was 
still maintaining itself and had not given up its ground. Then, when about the 
whole line had retreated toward the Chancellor House, the situation of the 
Twelfth began to be a matter of inquiry, and steps were taken by General Whip- 
ple to save whatever might be left of it. I cannot say that I carried any order 
to the regiment, for it was fighting alone and not under the orders of any imme- 
diate superior — Colonel Bowman, commanding the brigade, had lost connection 
with it — but I remember finding the remnant left of it after it had got back as far 
as the Chancellor House, and of taking it off the field. My impression is 
that I was then acting under orders of General Whipple to find and save the 
regiment, if I could, and get it to the rear where we were trying to gather up the 
fragments of the division. 

* See Colonel Bowman's report. 

JYcw Hampshire Volunteers. 97 

This was toward or about noon. At 2 o'clock, or thereabouts, the whole army 
fell back into a new line of intrenchments toward the river. 

Of the remarkable gallantry and stubbornness of the New Hampshire Twelfth 
that day there is no question. It was matter of common talk among us, and 
General Whipple was proud of the conduct of the regiment ; and after he was 
wounded the next morning by a rebel sharpshooter, and knew that his wound 
was mortal, he spoke in warmest terms of praise of the regiment and of Colonel 
Potter, wishing that he might live long enough to do him and his brave men 

Though not a field officer was left, and scarcely a line officer, and nearly three 
fifths of its entire number were killed or wounded, the regiment came up the 
slope to the Chancellor House in fair order amid the fire and shouts of the 
exultant rebels swarming out of the woods but just behind them. 

Colonel Bowman really gave no direction to the Twelfth that day, after the first 
formation in the early morning, and it was not under his eye at any time after, 
during the battle. I also remember what a magnificently large regiment of stal- 
wart men it was when it first came to the front, and what a splendid body of 
men — nearly six hundred — that went into the fight, and came out with less than 
two hundred effecth^s left. * * * I wish I might help by my testimony to 
do that justice to the gallant Twelfth New Hampshire which my lamented friend, 
General Whipple, did not live to do. 

The foregoing letter, though written nearly thirty years after the battle, 
and almost wholly from memory, is remarkable for its correct outline of 
the situation and its general accuracy. In the absence of any official 
report of the important part taken by the regiment in that battle, except 
so far as incidentally referred to, it supplies a great want, and is espe- 
cially valuable to the author of this history to confirm many statements of 
his concerning the Twelfth at Chancellorsville, that otherwise might be 
considered as written with more regard for the credit and good name of 
the regiment than for the simple truth. 

Indeed, so nearly do these statements and the letter agree, in several 
essential particulars, that one might think that the same person had 
written both, or that one had been written to correspond with the other; 
although the fact is, that the author of each wrote in entire ignorance of 
what the other was going to write or had written. 

With the exception of the correction of one date, and a slight change in 
one or two minor particulars, the letter, as originally written at the solici- 
tation of the author, and as here published with his sincere thanks to 
Colonel Hall, in behalf of every surviving member of the regiment, is the 

Official Reports of the Battle. 

The following extracts from the official reports of the corps and brigade 
commanders, together with a brief extract from the report of the assistant 
adjutant-general of the division, will be found useful, as well as interest- 
ing, in assisting the reader to a better understanding of what has already 
been written in this and the preceding chapter. 

98 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

It is extremely to be regretted that no official report, further than 
found in the following extracts, was ever made of the heroic part the 
Twelfth bore in the battle of Chancellorsville. 

General Whipple, who knew better than any other general officer of 
the difficult and almost impossible task that stern necessity imposed upon 
it, when, in want of any other troops present, he was obliged to order it 
in to do the part and hold the ground of a whole brigade, did not live- 
long enough, though it was his dying wish that he might, "to do justice 
to Colonel Potter and his brave men." 

Colonel Bowman, commanding the brigade, knew little or nothing of 
what the regiment did, or even of its position after he left it at the brook 
in the early morning, and therefore could make no satisfactory report 
of it. Colonel Potter was severely wounded and sent to Washington ; 
but for his not making a report and giving his brave men the credit that 
belonged to them, after he had sufficiently recovered from his wound to 
do so, there seems to have been no excuse and the wrongful neglect can 
neither be explained nor justified. 

General Sickles in his report, after giving the movements of his corps 
from the time of its breaking camp at Falmouth to the forenoon of Satur- 
day at Chancellorsville, says : 

Mv attention was now withdrawn from Chancellorsville, where Berry and 
Whipple remained in reserve, bv several reports in quick succession from (Gen- 
eral Birney, that a column of the enemy was moving along his front toward our 
right. This column I found, on going to the spot, to be within easy range of 
Clarke's battery (about 1,600 yards), and Clarke so effectually annoyed the 
enemy by his excellent practice that the infantry sought cover in the woods or 
some other road more to the south, while the artillery and trains hurried past in 
great confusion, endeavoring to escape our well directed and destructive tire. 

This continuous column — infantry, artillery trains, and ambulances — was 
observed for three hours, moving apparently in a southerly direction toward 
Orange Court House on the Orange and Alexandria railroad, or Louisa Court 
House on the Virginia Central. The movement indicated a retreat on (iordons- 
ville or an attack on our right flank, perhaps both ; for if the attack failed the 
retreat could be continued. The unbroken mass of forest on our right favored 
the concealment of the enemy's real design. * * * 

At noon I received orders to advance cautiously toward the road followed by 
the enemv, and harass the movement as much as possible. * * * 

I then directed Whipple to come up within supporting distance. Reaching 
the iron foundry, about a mile from his first position, Birney's advance was 
checked by a twelve-pounder battery of the enemy, which, at short range, from 
Welford's house near the road, poured in a destructive fire. * * * 

The considerable intervale on the left between Birnev's and Williams's 
divisions of Slocum's corps yet remaining unoccupied, I was compelled to draw 
largely from my reserves (Whipple) to enable me to connect on the left with 

JYczv Hampshire Volunteers. 99 

Referring to the attack of Jackson, he continues : 

Returning to the front, I found every indication that looked to a complete 
success as soon as my advance could be supported. * * * 

Regarding the movement opportune for the advance of General Pleasanton 
with his cavalry and horse battery, I was about to dispatch a staff officer to bring 
him forward, when it was reported to me that the Eleventh Corps had yielded the 
right wing of the army to the enemy, who was advancing rapidly, and, indeed, 
was already in my rear. 

I confess I did not credit this statement until an aide-de-camp of General War- 
ren of General Hooker's staff confirmed the report, and asked for a regiment of 
cavalry to check the movement. The Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry was imme- 
diately sent by General Pleasanton, and brilliantly was the service performed, 
although with fearful loss. I had only time to dispatch staff officers to recall 
Birnev and Whipple, when the enemy's scouts and some dragoons disclosed 
themselves as I rode toward the bridge across Scott's Run for the purpose of 
making dispositions to meet and arrest this disaster. Meeting General Pleasan- 
ton, we hastened to make the best available disposition to attack Jackson's 
columns on their right Hank. I confided to General Pleasanton the direction of 
the artillery — three batteries of my reserve, Clarke's, Lewis's, and Turnbull's, 
and his one-horse battery 

The only supports at hand comprised two small regiments of cavalry — .Sixth 
New York and Seventeenth Pennsylvania — and one regiment of infantry — One 
Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania — of Whipple's division.* 

Time was everything. The fugitives of the Eleventh Corps swarmed from the 
woods and swept frantically over the cleared fields in which my artillery was 
parked. The exulting enemy at their heels mingled yells and volleys, and in the 
confusion which followed it seemed as if cannon, caissons, dragoons, cannoneers, 
and infantry could never be disentangled from the mass in which they were sud- 
denly thrown. Fortunately there was only one obvious outlet for these panic- 
stricken hordes, after rushing between and over our guns, and this was through a 
ravine crossed in one or two places by Scott's Run. This was made impassable 
by the reckless crowd choking up the way. 

A few moments was enough to restore comparative order and get our artillery 
in position. The enemy showing himself on the plain, Pleasanton met the 
shock at short range with the well directed fire of twenty-two pieces, double 
shotted with canister. The rebels pressed by the plank road rapidly, and as 
General Pleasanton justly observes in his report — 

"They advanced in silence and with that skill and adroitness they often display 
to gain their object. The only color visible was an American flag with the 
centre battalion. To clear up this doubt my aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Thomp- 
son, First New York Cavalry, rode to within one hundred yards of them, when 
they called out to him, ' We are friends; come on!' and he was induced to go 
fifty yards closer, when the whole line in a most dastardly manner opened on 
him with musketry, dropped the American colors, and displayed eight or ten 
rebel battle flags." 

Lieutenant Thompson escaped unhurt, and our batteries opened on the advanc- 
ing columns with crushing power. The heads of columns were swept away to the 

*See mention of in preceding chapter. 

ioo History of the Twelfth Regiment 

woods, from which opened a furious but ineffectual fire of musketry. Twice they 
attempted a flank movement; but the first was checked bv our guns, and the 
second and most formidable was baffled bv the advance of Whipple and Birney, 
who were coming up rapidly but in perfect order, and forming in lines of 
brigades in rear of the artillery and on the flanks. 

My position was now secure in the adequate infantry support which had 
arrived, and the loud cheers of our men, as twilight closed the combat, vainly 
challenged the enemy to renew the encounter. 

Of the midnight attack made by his forces he says : 

It is difficult to do justice to the brilliant execution of this movement bv Birney 
and his splendid command. Wood's brigade formed the first line, Haymen's 
second, about one hundred yards in the rear, pieces all uncapped, and strict 
orders not to fire a gun until the plank road and earthworks were reached ; the 
movement to be by the right of companies. On the left a wide road led 
through the woods perpendicular to the plank road on which the Fortieth New 
York, Seventeenth Maine, and Sixty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers were pushed 
forward by column of companies at full distance. 

The night was very clear and still ; the moon, nearly full, threw enough light 
into the woods to facilitate the advance, and against a terrific fire of musketry 
and artillery — some twenty pieces of which the enemy had massed in the opening, 
"where General Howard's headquarters had been established — the advance was 
successfully executed, the line of the plank road gained, and our breastworks 
reoccupied. * * * 

All our guns and caissons, and a portion of Whipple's mule train were 
recovered, besides two pieces of the enemy's artillery and three caissons captured. 

As the following, in reference to the next day's fight, will be instructively 
interesting to most of the readers of this book, and of special interest to 
all the survivors of the Twelfth, particularly to those of them who fought 
there, it will be given in full : 

At daylight on Sunday morning I received orders from the general-in-chief in 
person to withdraw from my position on the plank road and march my command 
by the most practical route to Fairview, and there occupy the line of intrench- 
ments along the skirt of the woods, on both sides of and perpendicular to the 
plank road ; my artillery to occupy the field-works on the crest of the hill in the 
rear of the lines of battle. Major-General Berry I found already in position in 
the front line with the Second Division connecting on his left with Williams's 
division — Twelfth Corps. 

An examination of his disposition left me nothing to desire. 

General Whipple commenced his movement from the Wilderness (the place 
it occupied Saturday night) by the left flank, preceded by the artillery of his 
own and Birney's division, except Huntington's battery, which was well posted 
on the right flank to cover the withdrawal of the columns. 

Birney followed in good order. When the rear of his column (Graham's 
brigade) had descended into the ravine, the enemy fiercely assailed Graham and 
Huntington's battery, but were handsomely repulsed. Directing a battery to 

~Yczl> Hampshire Volunteers. 101 

open fire from the crest of a hill to the left of the Fairview house (meaning the 
Chancellor House) and a brigade to be formed in column of regiments within 
supporting distance of Graham, he was withdrawn in good order, though not 
without considerable loss. 

Huntington's battery, of Whipple's division, swept with a most destructive 
fire the plain upon which the rebels deployed for their attack on Graham. In 
withdrawing over the branches of Scott's Run, this battery lost some of its horses 
and material. Along the heights in front of Fairview, commencing near the 
plank road on the right, were Dimick's and Osburn's batteries; near the dwell- 
ing Randolph's and Clarke's were posted ; on the extreme left of the crest Seeley, 
Lewis, Livingstone, and Puttkammer in reserve. Huntington was sent to the 
ford. The Third (Mott's) Brigade, Second Division, after the retreat of the 
Third Maryland, moved forward to the breastworks by the command of General 
Mott, and drove the enemy back upon himself with incalculable slaughter. 

The Fifth New Jersey advanced into the woods, beyond the line of breast- 
works, capturing many prisoners and colors. The Seventh New Jersey vied 
with the Fifth in repelling the rebel masses. Graham's brigade (the One 
Hundred and Fourteenth, Fifty-seventh, Sixty-third, Sixty-eighth, One Hundred 
and Fifth, and One Hundred and Forty- first Pennsylvania Infantry) was almost 
immediately sent to the front to relieve one of General Slocum's brigades which 
was reported to me to be out of ammunition. 

The First Brigade (General Franklin commanding) of Whipple's division, 
in two lines — the One Hundred and Twenty-fourth and Eighty-sixth New York 
and One Hundred and Twenty-second Pennsylvania — supported Berry on the 
right of the plank road most gallantly. 

The battery on the left of the road and in the rear of the line having been 
withdrawn, these regiments relieved the front line on the left of the road, and by 
a brilliant charge drove back the enemy who was coming down the road and 
over our breastworks. 

It was in this charge that the intrepid Lieutenant-Colonel Chapin and Major 
Higgins were wounded, the former mortally. 

The Second Brigade, Colonel Bowman commanding — the Twelfth New 
Hampshire, Colonel Potter commanding; One Hundred and Tenth Pennsyl- 
vania, Lieutenant-Colonel Crowther commanding ; and the Eighty-fourth Penn- 
sylvania, Lieutenant-Colonel Opp commanding — formed the third line in front 
and to the left of the batteries at Fairview. 

These troops behaved with the utmost gallantry and were boldly led, main- 
taining their ground to the last, under the most adverse circumstances. 

Their loss was necessarily severe. Besides Lieutenant-Colonel Crowther, who 
was killed, Colonel Potter, Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, and Major Savage, of the 
Twelfth New Hampshire, and Major Jones, of the One Hundred and Tenth 
Pennsylvania, were all dangerously wounded. 

The sharpshooters, under Colonel Berdan, supported the First Brigade, throw- 
ing out a strong line of skirmishers to the front in the woods. These splendid 
light troops rendered the most efficient service. 

Major Hastings was severely wounded while upon duty with his battalion. 

The vigor and tenacity of the enemy's attack seemed to concentrate more and 
more upon my lines near the plank road and on my left flank.* As fast as their 
* It will be remembered that the Twelfth fought on the left of and close to the plank road. 

102 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

lines were broken by the terrible fire of artillery and musketry, fresh columns 
were deployed. 

My last reserve — Wood's brigade of Birnev's division — had been sent to sup- 
port Berry on the right of the plank road, but the heroic commander had fallen 
in the thickest of the fight, while Wood was on his way, who failed to get into 
position before the enemy had turned Berry's left flank, which was held by the 
Third Maryland, of the Twelfth Corps. 

Thirty cannon, in commanding position and admirably served, inflicted ter- 
rible blows upon the enemy. Often repulsed by the concentration of this fire 
and by repeated charges of infantry, his exhausted resources enabled him to press 
forward rather in crowds than in any regular formation. 

Colonel Bowman, in his very brief and somewhat indefinite report of 
the battle, after referring in a few words to the advance of his brigade 
and its position Saturday afternoon and night, continues as follows : 

In the evening we fell back and lay on our arms until daylight, when the 
entire brigade — the One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania had rejoined it on its 
retreat from the woods in the afternoon — was directed to march in the direction 
of the brick house (meaning the Chancellor House), and to form the third line of 
battle in front our batteries, placed on a hill. 

I had no special orders from General Whipple, excepting that it would be 
expected of me to support the batteries. But I had hardly made the proper dis- 
positions of my command, when (the enemy having made a vigorous attack 
against our left) I saw our troops on both sides of the creek break and run, 
without giving the enemy a single volley. Under these circumstances it was 
obvious that unless this calamity could be repaired instantly our left would be 
turned at the very beginning of the engagement. I could not at that moment 
obtain the advice of either my division, or corps commander. The enemy was 
seeking the very cover abandoned by our troops to be used against us. There 
was no time for delay, and I ordered the One Hundred and Tenth and Eighty- 
fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers (these being nearest thereto) into the position 
abandoned as above stated. 

For a moment it was doubtful if we could get there before the enemy, but just 
then General Whipple appealed, and urging us on, we secured the position, and 
held it. 

By this circumstance 1113- command was divided. The Twelfth New Hampshire 
Volunteers became engaged subsequently, and lost heavily. Colonel Potter, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Marsh, and Major Savage were all badly wounded, and of 
twenty-one officers and five hundred and thirty-seven enlisted men of this regi- 
ment who went into the fight, there remain only ^ve officers and two hundrel 
and twelve men now present for duty. The One Hundred and Tenth and 
Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers held their position for nearly two hours, 
and until our artillery on the hill had been withdrawn. * * * 

My command having been separated by the circumstance alluded to, and 
anticipating my inability to be present constantly with all portions of it, I in- 
structed Colonel Crowther, the senior officer, to hold the position at all hazards 
until it became absolutely impossible and then to retreat, but unfortunately he 

S\en' Hampshire Volunteers. t 103 

did not discover in time our line broken on his right, and that he was flanked on 
his left, and before he was aware of it he was called upon to surrender by an 
overwhelming force of the enemy. This proposition was responded to only by 
a hand to hand encounter, in which he bravely fell, and out of which about one 
half of the command at that point escaped, bringing many prisoners with them. 
The fate of the balance is unknown. 

From this report it is seen why and how the Twelfth became separated 
from the rest of the brigade, and had to fight its battle alone ; but it does 
not so clearly appear where Colonel Bowman and his staff officers were 
after he left Colonel Crowther in command of his two Pennsylvania reg- 
iments. He says : "Anticipating 1113- inability to be constantly present 
with all portions of it (the brigade), I instructed Colonel Crowther," 
etc. Now the Twelfth was the only portion left of the brigade, for there 
were but three regiments in it, and if Colonel Crowther, as senior officer, 
took command of and was looking after two regiments, what hindered 
Colonel Bowman from looking after the other? 

Or, if he could not possibly do so himself, where were all his staff offi- 
cers and aides-de-camp? It is safe enough to presume, that had the 
Twelfth been at that time as far to the rear as it was in front of the main 
line of battle — meaning the front line of intrenchments, to hold which 
the Pennsylvania regiments had been ordered to the left — it would have 
had no reason to complain for lack of attention from either general or 
staff officers. 

Assistant Adjutant-General Dalton, of Whipple's staff, refers in his 
report to Bowman's brigade as follows : 

The second brigade was placed in position supporting the batteries on the left 
and front of the white house (meaning, as presumed, the Chancellor House). 

This position was a critical one, the troops on either flank having fallen back, 
and the batteries having been withdrawn ; but the brigade held its ground suc- 
cessfully until nearly flanked, when it retreated to the lines of the army. In this 
movement the brigade was constantly engaged in fighting and suffered heavily, 
losing more than half of the command. Out of seven field officers, five fell, 
either killed or wounded. 

This report of Captain Dalton's, dated May 10th, shows how little he 
knew of the action of the brigade after it had taken its position in the 
morning, and how little was known of the position and action of one of 
its regiments as late as seven days after the battle. What he says, ex- 
cepting as to position first taken by the brigade and loss of field officers, 
applies only to the two Pennsylvania regiments, and does not touch the 
Twelfth at all. Yet it is of some importance here, as cumulative evidence, 
because, when taken in connection with Colonel Hall's letter and Colonel 
Bowman's report, it proves conclusively the correctness of the author's 
pen picture of the situation at the time the Twelfth was ordered into the 
fight, viz. : that the regiment, after the detachment of the other two bat- 

104 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

talions, was left substantially alone to stem the tide that was rolling in 
upon them from a broad unguarded front. " This position,*' he says, 
" was a critical one, the troops on either flank having fallen back and the 
batteries having been withdrawn." 

But if that position was a critical one. as indeed it was, what shall be 
said of the position of the Twelfth more than two hours afterward — if 
the Colonel is correct in his time — when it stood fighting seventy-five 
rods at least in advance of its first line of battle, zvith both its -flanks firmly 
held by rebel troops ! The part of the brigade of which he speaks fell 
back long before the remaining and most tenacious part did, and no infer- 
ence intended that any part of it did not fight zee//, either 

General Sickles's Testimony 

General Sickles, when asked at the time of the Third Corps reunion in Boston, 
if he remembered an) thing- about the Twelfth New Hampshire \ olunteers at 
Chancellorsville, responded as follows : 

"Yes, sir, I do ; I know that it was the last regiment that left the field that 
day When I had formed my last line near the Chancellor House, and my 
artillery was just about to open on the rebel lines that came pressing out of the 
woods at the foot of Fairview, I noticed a little squad of blue emerge in sight 
over the hill on our left front ; and putting spurs to my horse, I rode in front 
of mv batteries and ordered the gunners to hold their fire as there were some of 
my men between us and the rebels. I was interested to know what regiment the 
men belonged to, as I supposed all my troops had fallen back some time before 
that, and when thev came up I found they belonged to the Twelfth New Hamp- 
shire Volunteers." 

He was then told that his statement explained what some of the Twelfth hoys 
who were in that squad had said about him at the time. 

" What was that? " inquired the general. 

"The} 1 said, and have often since referred to it, that you were riding up and 
down in front of your line, bare-headed and swinging your hat, and crying out: 
'Tallin, fall in here, men! These are wrguns!' Understanding you to mean 
for them to fall in and help support your batteries." 

"No," laughingly replied the general, "that wasn't my object, nor quite my 
words, though I can see how they could easily have understood me so. What I 
did say was, ' Hold on there, gunners I Hold your Jirel Those are my men ! ' 

" The little squad (for as I remember it there wasn't much more than a baker's 
dozen left of them, was there?) sprang into sight all at once and entirely unex- 
pected to me, and, if I hadn't seen them just as I did, there wouldn't have been 
anything left of them. But such is war, and its losses and dangers. O, yes, I 
certainly know and shall never forget so much about your regiment at Chancel 

The Chancellor Estate, 

upon which the main battle was fought, and from which it took its name, was 
formerly owned by George Chancellor who settled there about eighty-five years 
;\< r n. He was a rich planter, owning a large number of slaves, and built the 

^Ve:;' Hampshire Volunteers. 105 

large and imposing structure standing there until consumed by the flames at the 
time of the battle, and long known as the "• Chancellor House." The place itself 
with its surroundings, was called Chancellorsville ; but this name was not usually 
applied to the house until after the war. 

This house was situated at the intersection of the old turnpike and the plank 
road, both leading to Fredericksburg, and on the direct route from that city to 
Orange Court House and Gordonsville. It was a great resort for planters and 
business men who lived in or between those places, though never used as a regu- 
lar hotel. It was built mostly of brick, and was one of the largest and best fin- 
ished "F F V "* mansions in the State. 

The house now standing on the same spot, a printed engraving of which is 
here seen, was built up from the old walls of the west wing that were left stand- 
ing, and is about one third the size of the original one. The estate included 
about eight hundred and fifty acres, and had remained in the Chancellor family 
about fifty years, being sold just before the war. It is now, unless recently sold, 
owned by \Y X Wyeth, of Baltimore, Md., but is under the care and super- 
vision of yespacian Chancellor, grandson of the original owner, and nephew of 
Maj. Sanford Chancellor, whose widow, Fanny E., and family resided there at 
the time of the battle. 

After the war she resided for several years with her husband's nephew, above 
named, where the author had the pleasure of seeing and conversing with her 
October 3, 1SS8, and where she continued to reside until her death a few years 
later, when almost eighty-three years old. In answer to the question, " I suppose 
you still very vividly remember that day and its terrors? " she replied with a voice 
tremulous with emotion as well as age, " I guess, indeed, I dor' placing such a 
forcible but sad and shuddering emphasis upon the last word, as to almost make 
the listener think he was on that field again, and could see the flames consum- 
ing the house above her head. 

There had been so many different stories told and published about the burning 
of the building, and of whom and how many were in it beside the wounded sol- 
diers at the time it caught fire from the rebel shells that were raining upon it, that 
it had become doubtful if any of them were true. 

It appears, however, upon investigation, that not one half the truth has ever 
been told. When the battle commenced on Sunday morning there were thirteen 
or fourteen persons in the house that were living there and in houses near by, 
and all females but two — a boy and a baby. These were Mrs. Chancellor, her 
six grown up daughters, her son about sixteen years old, two of the neighbors — 
one with a baby in her arms — and two or three colored servants. 

When the fire of the enemy was directed against the house, these helpless non- 
combatants went down into the cellar, where they remained until driven out by 
the flames. 

At the time the house caught fire the Union lines had been pushed back across 
Faii-view, and the building was exposed J:o a most destructive fire from the 
enemy's guns, some of which were now occupying the very ridge in the woods 
where the Twelfth but a short time before had been fighting. More than this, 
it was within the sweep of the rebel musketry, bullets constantly striking the 
house or flying swiftly past it. 

* First Families in Virginia. 

106 Hist or \ of the Ticclfth Regiment 

They were advised therefore by Colonel Dickinson, of Hooker's staff, to wait 
awhile and see if the fire inside could not be put out or kept under control before 
taking the chances of what, as vet, was a more dangerous, if not hotter fire out- 
side. But soon the flames had made such progress that it was evident thev must 
leave the house or be burned to death and buried in its ruins. The wounded, 
among whom were Colonel Potter and several of his men, had been all removed, 
and now the women, assisted and encouraged by Colonel Dickinson and a brave 
and kind hearted drummer boy (who has visited the family two or three times 
since the war, but whose name cannot now be recalled) ascended from the cellar 
and made readv for their fiery exodus. Fortunately the rebel artillerists, seeing 
the house in flames, had ceased to make it a target for their guns, and the mus- 
ketry fire had considerably diminished. Now, then, was their time if ever, for the 
flames were now fiercely raging above and around them, except the side toward 
which they hastened for egress, and pieces of the burning ruins were already 
falling upon their heads. 

As the mother at the head of the family reaches the door, she takes one wild 
look and hesitates; and though the scorching flames are making every moment's 
delay perilous, it is no wonder that she pauses. The terrible fear of herself and 
children being burned to death, that was impelling her swiftly on, is, for the 
instant, forgotten at the awful scene of destruction, carnage, and death that now 
presents itself before her. What a situation for innocent, inoffensive, and help- 
less humanity was this ! What a picture for a master artist's brush ! The terror- 
stricken mother, standing on the threshold of her own home, that is fast 
crumbling into fiery ruins above her head, with her six daughters and youthful 
son clinging to or clustering about her, and her servants and neighbors pressing 
close behind, needs but the smiling face of the baby that, all unconscious of 
danger, is securely covered and closely hugged to its mother's bosom, to com- 
plete the group. But this is but the centre-piece of the picture, and we leave the 
rest for the imagination of the reader ; for the whole scene no pencil can sketch, 
no brush can paint, and no pen describe. 

Leaving the house, conducted by the gallant colonel, and assisted by the 
drummer and other soldiers, the pitiful group, hurrying rapidly forward and 
keeping the burning house between them and the bullets that were still coining 
from the enemy's front, at last reached the protection of the woods, all untouched 
by the flying missiles of death, but by no means unharmed. One of the daughters 
was so greatly excited and frightened that the blood ran from her nose and 
mouth, and it was feared she would bleed to death before it could be stopped ; 
and one of the old family servants was so terrified that she lost her reason, and 
never recovered it to the day of her death, that occurred a few years later. 

This house was occupied by General Hooker as his Headquarters, and where 
he was disabled for some time from holding the command of his army. He was 
struck by a piece of wood that was split off" by a solid shot or shell from one ot 
the posts of the piazza, near which he was standing, and while just about to 
mount his horse. He was picked up by some of his staff and carried into the 
house, where for a time he lay in a semi-conscious condition, from which it was 
feared he would never recover. But soon rallying, he called for his horse, as the 
idea of what he was about to do when hit, came back to his mind; and, in spite 
of every remonstrance, mounted, with the assistance of his officers, into the 

JW:i' Hampshire Volunteers. 107 

saddle, and rode a piece into the field. The pain from reaction of the shock was 
so severe, however, that he had to return to the house again. 

Colonels Potter and Marsh and several other wounded officers and men of the 
Twelfth were in the house about the time it caught fire, and when one of the 
chimneys was knocked down, the fire-place tumbling into the room where they 
lay, making such a jar and noise that it seemed as if the whole house were falling 
down upon them. It was in this house, also, that Chaplain Ambrose and 
Surgeon Hunt worked so bravely and nobly for the suffering wounded, not leav- 
ins: it until forced to by the flames. 


It has been stated upon the authority of Surgeon Jamison, of Whipple's 
division, that Captain Angle and three other commissioned officers of the Eighty- 
seventh New York Regiment were burned to death in this house. This, as 
hoped, was not correctly reported, although, in the hurry and confusion, it is not 
altogether improbable that some of the living wounded might have been left there 
to be consumed by the flames. 

The picture of the building here seen is from a photograph taken at the time 
of the visit of the survivors of the Twelfth Regiment and others to the battle-field, 
October 3, 1S8S, and shows upon the staging and roofs, the workmen who were 
then shingling the house, the team of Vespasian Chancellor, superintendent of 
the estate, with Mr. Chancellor and Reuben T Leavitt of the Twelfth in the 
carriage, and two other ex-members of the regiment — Frank L. Hughes and the 
writer hereof — sitting on the fence. 

The brick end of the building, shown in the lecture, is the part of the old 
building left standing at the time of the battle ; and the dark spots thereon are 
solid shot thrown by the Confederates, and that are still to be seen sticking into 
brick walls. 

Jackson Monument. 

It stands within a few feet of the plank road, about a mile west from the Chan- 
cellor House, and less than eighty rods from where the Twelfth New Hampshire 
Volunteers fought on the morning of the third day of May, 1863. 

It is built of Virginia granite, stands about twelve feet high, and has upon it 
the following inscriptions : 

On the side of the pedestal facing the road, in large capitals, is the name 
"Jackson," and on the die above are the words, "On this spot fell, mortally 
wounded, Thomas J. Jackson, Lt. Gen., C. S. A., May 2d, 1863." On the east 
side, " 'There is Jackson standing like a stonewall.' — Bee at Manassas." North 
side, "'Could I have directed events, I should have chosen, for the good of the 
country, to have been disabled in your stead ; I congratulate you on the victory 
which is due to your skill and energy.' — Gen. R. E. Lee." West side, " 'Let 
us pass over the river and rest under the shade of the trees' — his last words." 

There has been considerable dispute, even by the Confederate soldiers, as to 
the exact spot where Jackson fell, many claiming it was thirty or forty rods west 
from where the monument stands, and nearly opposite where the Twelfth lay in 
support of the batteries Saturday night. It is also a question that can never be 
answered with certainty, whether he was killed by Federal troops or his own men, 
but probably by the latter. 

io8 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

After Thoughts of Ciiancei.lorsyille. 

"Can I »o to Haverhill on this train?" the writer once hastily inquired of a 
ticket master just as a train was about starting from the depot, meaning simply if 
it was the Haverhill bound train. 

"Well, I don't know," replied the ticket agent, smiling at the way the ques- 
tion was put, "we can start you in about two minutes, but getting there, vou 
know, is quite another thing." 

It was just after two or three serious accidents on that and connecting roads, 
and the long, uncertain answer to the question was easy to understand, even 
without the special emphasis that was given to the above italicized words. 

Thus it was when "Fighting Joe Hooker," with men and mules packed with 
ammunition and rations, started for Richmond. His plan of the campaign was 
good, his combinations timely and well ordered, and his start-out in everv way 
promising. But the history of the Army of the Potomac had been one long 
chapter of defeats and disasters, from Bull Run to Fredericksburg, to say nothing 
about the "mud march"; and General Hooker, with this dark chapter before 
him, and knowing that he had not only General Lee and his army in the field but 
General Halleck and his staff at Washington to contend with, was weighted 
down with fears and doubts from the hour that the great responsibility rested 
upon him. 

Had he had the same confidence in the courage and ability of his men that 
they had of the same qualities in him, the result would have been much more 
satisfactory, even if the objective point of his campaign had not been reached. 

When the sun of that sad Sabbath day went down, notwithstanding the ill- 
fortune that had compelled him to contract his lines, and yield a large portion of 
the field, he had at least seven out of ten chances still left to him. 

Though several of his corps had been roughly handled, and were consequently 
more or less disabled, yet his army was by no means defeated. 

Even the Third Corps, that had borne the brunt of the battle, was in as good a 
condition to renew the fight Monday morning as one half of the rebel forces. 
The remark has often been made, that Hooker was a good fighter, but he lacked 
the ability to command a great army. And such will doubtless be the verdict ot 
history, notwithstanding the acknowledged fact, that his move against the Con- 
federate army — then behind its blood-cemented defenses at Fredericksburg, 
and separated from him by a wide and swiftly flowing river — was so ably 
planned and brilliantly executed, that when he halted his advance force ot forty 
thousand men at Chancellorsville, he had more than half a victory won, without 
the loss of a single man or gun. 

If this was not generalship of the highest order, then search history, and tell 
where, from Alexander to Bonaparte, you can find it. 

And as a further reply, if any more i.s needed, to the charge of incompetency, 
another important fact, though not so often considered, may be presented, viz. : 

Joseph Hooker was the only general of the Union army who ever proved 
himself to be more than a match for his great antagonist, the hoary-headed Nestor 
of the Rebellion, Gen. Robert E. Lee, in the great game of strategetics, from 
the time the latter took command of the Army of Northern Virginia to the time 
he surrendered it at Appomattox. 

JYczl' Hampshire Volunteers. 109 

If Hooker showed no ability in this, then was Lee greatly in want of it. 

Instead of General Hooker being unable to command so large an army as the 
Army of the Potomac, he was probably, everything considered, the ablest com- 
mander it ever had, excepting General Grant. 

And yet, because he failed once, and was not permitted to try again, he must 
take his place in history as a failure. 

" So much to fortune and to fate." 

The world judges its great actors by the results of their efforts, when often- 
times nothing could be more unjust ; and the muse of history thinks herself 
justified in simply recording the common opinion of the public mind, regardless 
of the correctness of that opinion, and only too careful to suppress any opinion 
of her own that may chance to run counter to it. 

But was Hooker in nothing lacking? By no means, for it is only the centuries 
that produce a military genius. 

But first, as referred to in the preceding chapter, he was sadly lacking in 
strong and efficient corps commanders who had the ability and courage to take 
command of the armv even for a single hour, though that was the crisis hour of 
the battle, and their chief lav prostrate from the effects of a shot from the 
enemy's batteries. 

And thus was the grand reserve of over thirty-five thousand men, that Hooker 
had purposely held back to decide the battle and give him a complete victory, 
allowed to remain inactive while the rest of the Union troops were being driven 
from the field. 

General Hooker was also lacking in the good-will and hearty cooperation of 
his superior in rank, General Halleck, who was chiefly instrumental in getting 
him removed from the command of an armv that he had so skilfully handled as 
to restrict and control the movement of the enemy, and compel General Lee to 
turn back and retrace his steps from Ilarrisburg, that he had hoped to capture, 
and fight a battle before he was ready, and upon ground not of his own chosing. 

But if Hooker himself was lacking, as already admitted, it was not in ability, 
but in courage, the very last thing of which his bitterest enemy would have ever 
thought of accusing him. 

But between the courage here referred to, and what is generally understood by 
the name, there is a very great and important difference. Courage to meet per- 
sonal danger, or face death on the battle-field is one, but not the only kind nec- 
essary for a great general to possess. 

The surgeon who has the courage and nerve to bravely stand, and cooly act 
at his post of duty, while the shells of the enemy are bursting over his head and 
all around him, may not, at the same time, have the courage to cut the mangled 
limb from the wounded body of the poor suffering soldier, although he knows it 
is the only chance to save him, but fears that he will die upon the amputation 
table, with the warm blood of his victim upon his hands, if he undertakes it. 

"How dare you take such a risk"? said one of Cromwell's officers to him 
as he was about to order his soldiers to enter the halls of the King's Parliament. 
" I dare do anything to attain my object " was the reply of the lion-hearted 
leader of the Iron Sides, and, instead of being hung for treason, he became Lord 
Protector of the Realm, and, when he died, was buried with the greatest honors 
in Westminster Abbey. 

no History of the Twelfth Regiment 

Had Hooker been as willing to take the risk and the responsibility as Lee was 
in ordering the last desperate charge at Gettysburg, or as Grant was in swinging 
his whole army south of the James, after his bloody repulse at Cold Harbor, 
leaving Washington and the whole North almost entirely unprotected, the end of 
his campaign, so brilliantly entered upon, would probably have been as glorious 
as its beginning was propitious, and Richmond his reward. 

It was the courage of his convictions that would have prompted him to act, 
regardless of all consequences, that was chiefly wanting. 

A good general, it is said, will look out for his lines of retreat, but he is a 
better one who, when the exigency demands, dares, like Cortez, to burn his 
bridges behind him, determined to go through or go down, but never to go back. 

Had the rising waters of the Rappahannock swept away, as they threatened to, 
the pontoon bridges at United States Ford, after the great rain of Tuesday 
afternoon, it would have been of the greatest advantage to the Union commander, 
for the new and neccessary kind of courage, born of desperation, that it would 
have inspired in him, was all that was needed. 

Advance or surrender would then have been the stern alternative, and who 
that was there can doubt which it would have been, or what would have been the 
result ? 

In technical terms his strategetics were most admirable, and his tactics, though 
they have been severely criticised, were in the main good, and would have suc- 
ceeded, despite the crippling of his right wing by the unexpected attack of Jack- 
son's army, had they been tenaciously adhered to and vigorously carried out t<> 
the end. And it would not be claiming very much to say that he was the supe- 
rior of General Halleck, even in logistics. 

Had he supplemented his encouraging and somewhat boastful announcement 
made to his army three days before the battle, by another the next day after, stat- 
ing, in substance, that he had started for Richmond, and was going there in spite 
of anything the enemy had done, or could do to prevent him; that although 
the Rappahannock was behind him, and what was left of the rebel army in front, 
he proposed to move forward again at once, with nearly forty thousand fresh 
troops to take the advance ; and called upon his troops for one more effort to 
make his words of promise good, Chancellorsville would not now be found 
recorded in history as a Confederate victory. 

But it must be admitted, even by his most enthusiastic admirers, that in stub- 
bornistics, that part which though not found in the books of military science, nor 
taught at West Point, is none the less essential, for it made Grant invincible, 
he was again somewhat lacking. 

But what has seemed strange to man)- was his neglect to carry out his original 
plan of battle to keep a heavy force in reserve, by forcing a desperate tight troiu 
those engaged, and then, when the enemy was well nigh exhausted, letting that 
reserve sweep clean the field. 

This, as will be remembered, was the kind of battle-plan that, with the eye of 
genius to direct and the " Old Guard" to execute, made Napoleon Bonaparte the 
greatest military chieftain of modern times, and would as surely have given 
another star of rank to Hooker, and been another step toward that loft}' summit 
of enduring fame later reached by the less brilliant but more determined hero of 
Vicksburg and Appomattox, had the thirty-live thousand fresh troops been ordered 

JVezc Hampshire Volunteers. m 

in. But those who wonder at this fatal neglect upon that day, and think because 
only a part of his army was engaged when the whole of it was so badly needed, 
that he had more men under his command than he had the capacity to well han- 
dle, forget, or never knew what has already been referred to, that at this critical 
and decisive moment he was lying prostrate and senseless inside the Chancellor 
House, with no one who dared to act in his place, and that before he had suffi- 
cientlv recovered to again take command it was too late to retrieve the day. 

This very important fact is not, it seems, sufficiently considered in discussing 
the causes of Hooker's failure at Chancellorsville, and especially as bearing upon 
the final result of his campaign in retreating from the battle-field. 

"While every one, who knows anything of the history of this battle, acknowl- 
edges the damaging if not fatal effect of this accident to him, as determining the 
battle on Sunday, few or none seem to give it any serious thought as connected 
with his decision to retreat the following day And yet it needs no physician's 
certificate to convince any reasonable person that from such a severe concussion 
of the brain as prostrated and paralyzed him on Sunday noon, he could not have 
so fully recovered on Monday night as to have his mind as clear and his nerves 
as strong as if nothing had happened to him. 

The great French captain, whose name was once the terror of Europe, and is 
still the wonder of the world, said that in battle five minutes may decide the fate 
of empires; and if it is the five-minute acts that decide great battles, what shall 
be said of the loss of a full hour at the very crisis point of the contest? Certainly 
there was a fate in this, if in all else Hooker was at fault. 

Moreover, he had been driven from the field for not being able to do the very 
thing that Lincoln had suggested to him, to put in all his men ; should he 
now disobey his written injunction, twice repeated, to "beware of rashness?" 
The safety of the nation was in his hands, the responsibility a great and grave- 
one, and he in no physical or mental condition to either decide or act. 

And so we end this second chapter on this great battle and the part taken in 
it by the Twelfth Regiment, as we commenced the first, and say that He, who in 
His wise providence so often contravenes the ablest plans and strongest purposes 
of man, can alone answer the question why Hooker failed at Chancellorsville. 


The Gettysburg Campaign. 

This chapter commences with the first movement of the regiment in 
that severe campaign that culminated in the great and decisive battle of 

On the tenth hour of the ioth day of June, 1863, but little more than 
a month after the bloody field of Chancellorsville, marching orders were 
received, and the next day the Twelfth broke camp, about 3 o'clock 
p. m., and marched to General Birney's Headquarters, where it, and the 
Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania joined the First Brigade of the Second Divis- 
ion, commanded respectively by Gen. Joseph B. Carr and Gen. Andrew 
A. Humphreys. 

The Third Division of the Third Corps had been so broken up and cut 
to pieces at Chancellorsville — its commander being killed, its brigades 
reduced to regiments, its regiments to companies, and the companies to 
mere squads of ten or fifteen men — that it was disorganized, and the 
remaining fragments of it put into the First and Second Divisions. 

It was supposed from this that the move was only for a change of 
camps : and the men loaded themselves up with everything that might 
possibly be of some use to them in the new quarters which they expected 
they were to establish, but half a mile away. 

No sooner was this pleasing delusion of only a change of camping 
ground, so far dispelled as to indicate, instead, a change of base for the 
whole army, than the work of unloading commenced, and continued 
through the long hours of that hot afternoon, until, when the welcome 
bivouac gave rest to weary limbs at Hartwood Church, late in the even- 
ing, little or nothing, save gun, equipments, and blanket roll — the 
soldier's absolute necessities on the march — remained of the pack-mule 
load with which they started. 

" We are in for it again, and God only knows when and where we 
shall come out," was the remark of one member of the Twelfth, and he 
simply expressed the serious thought of all. Yet though speculation 
was rife, and the cause and purpose of the sudden movement was freely 
discussed, not one in the whole army, including General Hooker himself, 
knew enough of the plan or design of the enemy to enable him to any 
more than guess what would be the objective point. 

Certain it is, that no member of the Twelfth, when he left camp on 
that day at Falmouth, Ya., had the faintest idea that his next permanent 

JWzi.' Hampshire ]~oluntccrs. 113 

camping ground would be at Point Lookout, Md. And it is equalty cer- 
tain, that some of the most brave and patriotic, had they known the 
terrible marches but just ahead of them, would never have started, but 
took the advice of Dr Fowler, and went to the Potomac Creek Hospital. 

Though sick and unable even for light duty in camp, they wanted to 
keep with the regiment as long as possible. But every dav left one or 
more of them behind to die or to be taken along on teams or in ambu- 
lances, until thev could be sent to some general hospital, or left at some 
place on the march where they would be cared for And a few, with 
pluck and nerve remarkable, were enabled by the assistance of their 
comrades and the kindness of officers, who let them ride in their own 
saddles or got them a chance to ride on the teams, to keep along with 
the regiment, either holding their own, or even gaining strength when 
strong men failed, and fought for victory and peace on the field of Gettys- 
burg, where some of them sealed their heroic record of fortitude and 
patriotism with their life's blood. 

From Hartwood Church the march was resumed at 6 o'clock the next 
morning ; and, though the dav was exceedingly hot, twenty-six miles 
were marched, through clouds of dust, on the Warrington and Alexan- 
dria turnpike, without halting, except for a few moments at a time. 

The regiment passed Kellev's Ford about 5 o'clock p. m., and crossed 
the Orange & Alexandria railroad, near where it spans the north branch 
of the Rappahannock, just as it was getting dark. 

An hour or two later the brigade filed off into a field and stacked arms, 
as it was supposed for the night. But hardly had the men stretched 
themselves out upon the ground to rest, before they were called up, 
ordered into line again, and obliged to march about three miles further 
before making a final halt, near the middle of the night, at Beverly 
Ford . 

This was one of the hardest marches ever made by the Army of the 

A day's halt here was absolutely necessary to allow time for the men, 
who were obliged to fall out, to come up and get sufficiently rested to 
proceed. A cavalry engagement had occurred at this place a few days 
before, and wounded horses, left to their fate, were found near the battle- 

In the afternoon a part of the Twelfth went out near the river on 
picket, and at night there was a detail from the regiment, and others in 
the brigade, to throw up a redoubt. 

The next day was the Sabbath, and it proved, unexpectedly, to be what 
it was designed for — a day of rest. But when evening came, at the 
hour of 9, another start was made, and a night's march ended at 7 o'clock 
the next morning at a place about half way between Rappahannock 
Junction and Catlett's Station. 

A lew hours of rest and sleep were given the troops here, and then 

H4 Hist or x of the Twelfth Regiment 

twelve more long miles to Manassas Junction were painfully measured 
out by weary limbs and blistered feet, with only a short stop at Bristoe 
Station for '-hard-tack" and coffee refreshments. This was a harder 
march even than that of the 12th, for the men were not in so good a con- 
dition to make it, their feet being so badly blistered that some left blood 
in their tracks through the hot sand. 

The heat was intense, and the dust almost suffocating ; and but for 
the use of handkerchiefs, wet as often as possible, and worn over the 
faces of the men, the number that were obliged to fall out would have 
been greatly increased. 

It was past midnight before guns were stacked, and their weary bearers 
allowed the restful sleep of the bivouac. 

From 9 o'clock Sunday evening to the hour of this last halt, the regi- 
ment had marched between thirty and forty miles, with little rest by day 
or sleep at night, and "tired nature's sweet restorer" was never a more 
welcome guest. 

General Humphreys, commanding the division, referring to this march 
says : 

" It was painful in the extreme, for owing to the continued drought 
streams, usually of considerable magnitude, were dried up, the dust lay 
some inches deep on the road-way, and the fields were equally uncom- 
fortable. The suffering from heat, dust, thirst, fatigue, and exhaustion 
was very great. It was near midnight when the division reached Man- 
assas Junction, after a march varying in the different brigades from 
twenty-five to twenty-nine miles." 

General Carr, the brigade commander, writes about it as follows : 

"This march was one of the most severe in my experience ; the air 
being almost suffocating, the dust blinding, and the heat intolerable. 
Many men suffered from coti^p de solicl, and a large number sank by the 
wayside utterly exhausted." 

It was now not only evident, but beyond dispute, that however urgent 
the call the infantry could not much longer respond, at the exhaustive rate 
of the last few days. 

The great military train was being propelled at a dangerously high 
mark on the gauge, and it became absolutely necessary, to keep it longer 
united on the track, to " slow up." 

If the river fords and mountain passes must be guarded and defended, 
to insure the safety of Washington or other northern cities, the cavalry 
must be depended upon to do it, until the slow but stubborn musketeers 
could get up. So Tuesday was a day of rest, the only move by the 
Twelfth being a change of camping ground to get nearer water 

On Wednesday, the 17th, the division moved slowly forward, cross- 
ing Bull Run at Blackburn's Ford about noon, where a short halt was 
made, and the rich pleasure of a cool, cleansing bath was greatly 
enjoyed. It was an ablution long to be remembered, and its effect, sup- 

JVeiv Hampshire Volunteers. nj 

plemented by a haversack lunch, was so refreshing and invigorating 
that the afternoon march to Centreville seemed but a pastime as compared 
with some of the days just past. 

Remaining near Centreville until nearly dark the next day (for which 
all were thankful, for it was extremely hot), the regiment moved a mile or 
two nearer the village during a severe thunder shower which commenced 
before starting, the water running in brooklets under the shelter-tents. 

Here was the first opportunity since leaving Falmouth of mailing let- 
ters home. 

It rained hard during the night, and the next day's march of twelve 
miles to Gum Springs was through mud and water instead of heat and 
dust. During the day the mercury fell thirty or forty degrees, and so 
great and sudden a change of temperature in a few hours, followed by a 
cold storm that set in just as the troops had pitched their tents, caused 
much suffering during the night among the rank and file, who, like most 
of the Twelfth, had nothing but a rubber blanket and piece of shelter-tent 
to serve as both bed and covering Sadlv, indeed, did they now need 
the overcoats and woolen blankets they had thrown away. 

But let no one censure them for their seeming follv or imprudence, for 
the want of them now, great as it was, could not half compensate for the 
burden of them through the terrible days of their march hither. Men are 
not often so wiselv prudent as to save for a future contingency that which 
is a source of present misery The crew of the sinking ship do not hesi- 
tate to throw overboard the cargo, because some part of it may be needed 
before the voyage is ended. 

The whole region of country along the line of the last few days' march 
was marked by sad evidences of war's desolating hand. All along the 
railroad were the ruins of houses, mills, cars, stations, and bridges that 
had been burned, and old soldiers pointed out several fields of sanguinary 

The Third Corps remained in camp at Gum Springs for several days. 
It was a dreary, dismal, swamp-like place to stop in, but the stop was now 
of much greater importance to man and beast than the place. The woods 
around were filled with guerillas, and several Union soldiers who had 
straggled from the line or encampment, were found lying dead in the 
woods with a bullet hole through their heads or bodies, or hanging from 
the limbs of trees. Had they never been found, they would have been 
recorded as : ' absent without leave," and their children, if any, and 
relatives would always have had to bear the stigma of their being desert- 
ers. Such is war, and so little is it known, in some instances, of the 
actual facts in accounting for the men. 

The second day at Gum Springs artillery firing was heard at Snicker's 
Gap or Aldie, and soon the whole division was ordered out, and a line of 
battle formed all around the open ground of the encampment ; and every 
day thereafter, the Twelfth, with other regiments, stood to arms, ready to 

n6 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

repel an expected attack of Stuart's cavalry- Hundreds of sick, from the 
different commands, were sent off to general hospitals from this place, 
a number of whom were from the Twelfth. 

On the 25th the division moved northward again, and for the next few 
days marched with greater rapidity, if possible, than before. Space and 
time were now important factors in General Hooker's calculations, for the 
whole rebel army was on the north side of the Potomac before midnight 
of the 26th; and close following, as well as watching, on the part of 
the Union commander, had become a vital necessity- since upon his vigi- 
lance and activity, as well as ability, depended the future destiny of his 
country - 

From Gum Springs to Edward's Ferry, a distance of fifteen miles, the 
troops were hurried forward, with only a few five-minute halts to take 
breath. Immediately crossing the Potomac at 5 p. m. on a pontoon 
bridge, without stopping long enough even for a sip of coffee, the division 
at once entered upon the famous " tow-path march," following the Ohio 
and Chesapeake canal ten or twelve miles further to somewhere near the 
mouth of the Monocacy river, where the troops bivouacked between 12 
and 1 o'clock the next morning. 

The adverb "somewhere," above used, has a special signification in this 
connection, which will be better understood a little further on. About 
dark it began to rain, and soon the path was but a narrow stretch of mud, 
trodden by many thousand feet into mortar-like consistency. 

After marching all day, with no time to rest or eat, a slow march on a 
moonlight night and on a hard and wide road would have been severe 
enough, to say nothing about nature's urgent call for sleep, when the toil- 
some day has passed and pitying night is not allowed to give relief : but 
when the long march ends not with the day but continues mile after mile 
and hour after hour, through rain and mud and enveloped in Cimmerian 
darkness, with no time or place to rest, and no prospect of soon getting a 
chance to, while the mud that clogs and burdens the already overtaxed 
limbs gets deeper and deeper on the earth beneath, and the rain pours 
down incessantly from the heavens above, human patience and endurance 
become exhausted, reason and mercy remonstrate, and the end, however 
near or desirable, must wait the necessary time and means. Such, most 
decidedly, was the conclusion of the suffering veterans of General Hum- 
phrevs's command on that terrible night's march. 

Whether Washington stood or fell, the nation survived or perished, 
they would not, because they could not, go any further without rest. So, 
at least, all felt, and many truly thought, for to them rest was an absolute 
necessity. But some had the courage and strength to hold out longer 
than others ; and when one was obliged to stop, his comrade or tent-mate, 
rather than leave him alone and uncared for, would stop with him, while 
others near by and just on the point, perhaps, of giving up themselves, 
would stop with them ; and so, at first by twos and fours, and then at 

AV: t ' Hampshire l"oluntccrs. 117 

last bv tens and scores, the men fell out and found, where best they 
could, a resting place for the remainder of the night. 

Still the general and his staff rode on, as if unmindful of his suffering 
followers, or thinking, perhaps, he had them now where they could 
not straggle, until, when he halted about midnight at the mouth of the 
Monocacy, they were scattered, and most of them soundly sleeping, all 
along die river's bank from there back nearly half the way to Edward's 
Ferry And this is how near, as before referred to, the division got to 
the Monocacy that night. Many incidents, both serious and amusing, 
of that memorable march might be related. Several slipped or stumbled 
in the darkness, and fell into the canal. Two or three of the Twelfth 
happening to have a piece of candle each in their haversacks, lighted 
and stuck them into the muzzles of their guns, and in this way lighted up 
the pathway for themselves and comrades. 

It has been said that General Humphreys purposely took the narrow 
tow-path ridge between the canal and the river that it followed, instead 
of a good, wide road on the other side of the river, to prevent straggling. 
If this was true, he doubtless saw, when he awoke the next morning, 
where he missed it. 

But, whatever his object, the result was the same, and he has left on 
record his confession of the severity of the march. He says, " The 
whole command, officers and men, were more exhausted by this march 
than by that of the 14th and 15th." The reader has but to refer back to 
his testimony upon what the soldiers suffered on that march to understand 
somewhat of their misery and suffering in this. 

The statement will not probably be contradicted, that no division of the 
whole Army of the Potomac, from its first organization to its last tri- 
umphal march through Pennsylvania avenue in Washington, ever made 
so long a march in so short a time, under equally adverse conditions of 
weather and roads. 

"Where is the regiment?" asked one of the Twelfth boys, who had 
fallen in the rear, of Captain Langley, about 11 o'clock on that never-to- 
be-forgotten night. The captain, who was riding back to find out the 
same thing that was inquired of him, replied, "The colors and a dozen 
or so of the boys have halted a few rods ahead, but the most of them, 
like yourself, are somewhere in the rear." 

"Hardest march yet," was the italicized comment of Captain (then 
Sergeant) Johnston in his diary, and his was but the opinion of all who 
were in it. The greater part of the next forenoon was lost to the progress 
of the division by its commander trying to be too smart the day previous, 
it being nearly 10 o'clock before there were enough together to make a 
start, and marching during the rest of the day and evening only about 
seven miles to Point of Rocks, Md., to allow time for those still behind 
to catch up. 

In the next three days the regiment marched with its brigade from 

n8 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

Point of Rocky, Md., through Jefferson, Burkittsville, Middletown. Fred- 
erick City, Walkersville, Woodsborough, and Ladiesburg to Taney town, 
Penn., — a distance, by the route taken, of not less than fifty miles. 

Although the ratio of time to space in these forced marches was not in 
exact harmony with the will or wishes of the weary, foot-worn men who 
made them, yet the knowledge that they were once more in " God's coun- 
try " and on freedom's soil, as evinced by the welcome greetings and en- 
thusiastic receptions that awaited them at every hamlet and village 
through which they passed, revived their spirits and strengthened their 
courage as they onward marched ; while responsive strains of music from 
regimental drum corps and brigade bands, amid the waving of handker- 
chiefs and miniature flags in the hands of smiling-faced women and bright- 
eyed children, and the hearty " God bless you" from aged matrons and 
sires, thrilled the soldier's heart anew with patriotic pride and devotion, 
and made the hours and miles pass more quickly by But best of all, the 
recent rain prevented the usually thick and choking dust from rising, and 
the weather was pleasant and cool for that latitude and season. Near 
Crampton's Gap the brigade encamped on the battle-field of South Moun- 
tain, and the Twelfth, and the Sixteenth Massachusetts Regiment were 
sent out a mile or two toward the top of the mountain on picket, and 
formed their reserve camp on the old battle-field surrounded by the graves 
of the dead, and near the spot where the brave General Reno fell just as 
the golden rays of the setting sun crowned the summit with the glorious 
halo of victory 

In starting with the sun from Frederick, on the morning of the 29th, the 
First Brigade moved out first, and the Twelfth, being on the right of the 
brigade, led the division and the whole corps in the order of march that 
day; and upon its reaching Taneytown at 6 p. m., it was immediately 
detailed for provost duty, which gave its members the freedom of the 
town, while the other troops, encamped outside, were not allowed to enter. 

This was rare good luck for the boys, who had long before learned by 
experience the great advantage of being at the head instead of in the rear 
of a moving column, and who quite as quickly appreciated a change of 
army tare for the more relishable, if not as healthy, doughnuts, cakes, 
and pies with which the glad citizens freely supplied them. 

On the 30th the whole corps remained at or near Taneytown most of the 
day, a part of it, however, after marching and countermarching through 
the town, moved forward on the Emmitsburg road as far as Bridgeport. 

Two days before, General Hooker had been superseded by General 
Meade and there was, as yet, some doubt in the minds of the corps com- 
manders as to where the latter intended to concentrate his forces for the 
battle which they plainly saw must soon be fought. Hooker's removal 
was generally looked upon, in the army, as a grave mistake. 

Receiving no order during the day and night, General Sickles advanced 
his corps, the next forenoon, as far as Emmitsburg, where he received 

JWri' Hampshire Volunteers. no 

orders to move toward Middleburg, between which place and Manchester, 
on the line of Pike's creek, General Meade had decided to meet and 
defeat, if possible, the Confederate army under General Lee. 

But before Sickles could move, he received a dispatch from General 
Howard, stating that his and the First Corps had been attacked by the 
enemy in full force at Gettysburg, and calling urgently for help. The 
situation was perplexing, but the gallant commander of the Third Corps 
was master of it. Knowing that, under the rules of war, it was discre- 
tionary with him to obey the order or the call, he promptly decided on 
the latter ; and in less than an hour his whole command, excepting one 
brigade and battery that was left to guard the wagon train, was marching 
swiftly toward Gettysburg. 

The student of history can now readily perceive the wisdom of his 
course ; for had General Ewell been allowed to follow up his success that 
afternoon, or General Longstreet attacked early the next morning, as 
ordered and expected to by General Lee, the saving presence of the " Old 
Third," with no other corps within supporting distance, would have been 
of the greatest importance. It was i o'clock in the morning of Thurs- 
day, July 2, when the Twelfth reached Gettysburg and bivouacked with 
its division at the left and rear of Cemetery Hill, the only ground then 
held by the Union forces. 

At the same hour General Meade and staff arrived from Taneytown and 
immediately made a moonlight inspection of his lines, already formed by 
Generals Howard and Hancock, who informed him fully of the enemy's 
position so far as developed and of the general outline of the field. 

The Third Corps would have been in position before midnight, but for 
its leading brigade running into the enemy's lines, and only escaping by 
a quick and noiseless retreat — dippers and canteens being so muffled or 
secured that they could make no sound by striking against each other or 
the equipments — for a distance of two or three miles into another road. 
It was every moment expected that the enemy would open with his artil- 
lery that was planted to sweep the road ; but the quick-witted reply of a 
staff officer, who learned by the inquiry made of him by a rebel picket 
that he was riding into the enemy's encampment, had aroused no suspi- 
cions in the minds of some Confederate officers near by, who heard the 
answer to the challenge, that the approaching column was not a part of 
their own army, and before they were undeceived, if, indeed, they ever 
were, it was too late to give their departing visitors even a farewell shot. 

The toils and hardships of the hardest march ever made by the Army 
of the Potomac were now about to merge into the dangers and sufferings 
of the greatest battle in which it was ever engaged, or that was ever 
fought on the American continent. Yet, such had been the extreme 
severities of that march, though seemingly strange, it is strictly true, that 
the sound of cannon was welcome music to many in those veteran ranks ; 
for it told them that the place of rest was near, though it might be their 
last resting place on earth. 

120 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

One battle had been fought and lost, the day before, by the advance 
corps of the Union army, but the great and final struggle was vet to 
come. Every officer and every man not only understood this and was 
prepared to meet it, but felt, as well, the supreme magnitude of the issue 
and its far-reaching results for the weal or woe of their country, and in 
no small degree of the whole human race. 

It has been remarked that at Chancellorsville the fates were against us, 
but smiled upon us at Gettysburg. And such was the wide difference of 
fortuitous circumstances that contributed to a humiliating defeat upon one 
field, and a decisive victory upon the other, it is but natural that such a 
thought should have found expression. But at no time or place, in the 
battle of Gettysburg, did fortune favor more, than when Longstreet, the 
Achilles of the southern army, after Jackson s fall, ' ; sat sulkv in his 
tent" until late in the afternoon, instead of attacking the Federal left 
wing early in the morning, as he had been ordered by General Lee the 
night before. 

Had this been done, with the cooperation of General Hill's corps, as 
intended and expected, and while a part of the Union army was yet on 
the march to the field of battle, there would doubtless have been no need 
of the desperate charge of Pickett's division on the following day, for 
there would have been no opposing forces there for him to have charged 

Though glad to longer sleep after the exhaustive march of the day and 
night before, the fearful expectation of an early attack by the enemy, 
before the other corps came up, would not permit it; and as soon as day- 
light, the men were aroused from their sound slumbers, and soon the 
aromatic fumes of the Java berry, steeping in thousands of tin dippers, 
pervaded the morning air 

Breakfast over, and while the rays of the rising sun were lighting up a 
cloudless sky, the First Brigade — General Carr's — -unstacked muskets 
and stood to arms. All was quiet, and naught but the troops near by 
gave any sign that that pleasant summer's morn was to usher in such a 
day of awful strite. 

About 8 o'clock the brigade marched forward a short distance toward 
the Emmitsburg road and formed the first line of battle of any part of the 
Third Corps that day The rest of the division was, at this time, massed 
in the rear. About 9 o'clock Ue Trobriand's brigade and Smith's battery 
of the First Division, that had been left back at Emmitsburg. arrived on 
the field, and each side and angle of the " Diamond Corps"* was com- 
plete again, and ready to make its mark. 

The sun gets higher and higher in the heavens, and still no battle opens 
on the earth below, where nearly two hundred thousand men are mar- 
shaled and stand waiting " in dred array" for the coming conflict. The 
Union forces are in constant expectation of moving against or receiving 
an attack of the enemy 

' Name given to the Third Corps from the shape of its bailee. 

J\\"c Hampshire Volunteers. 

Xoon by the sun whose hot rays are fast ripening the fields of wheat 
that spot the landscape, and which are soon to be crushed down and 
trodden into the earth, and yet, save fitful outbursts here and there along 
the picket lines, there is no sound to break the portentous stillness of that 
middav hour and warn the waiting ranks of the coming storm. 

Yet all know that it must soon break in all its fury upon them, and 
expectantly listen to hear the quick, running notes of the skirmish prelude 
swell into the grand but solemn diapason of battle. 

A little past 12 o clock General Humphreys advanced his command 
toward the front and formed his full division for action, with his First Brig- 
ade in the front line, which when deployed with one regiment — Seventy- 
first New York, Second Brigade — on its left, just filled the space allotted 
to his division bv General Sickles. 

The Second and Third Brigades were massed in the rear ready to de- 
ploy into lines of battle when needed, at intervals of about two hundred 
yards. About this time General Carr ordered the First Massachusetts to 
deplov as skirmishers and cover his front. In this position and formation 
the division remained until a few minutes after 4 o'clock, when it was 
ordered by General Sickles to move forward to the Emmitsburg road and 
connect with the First Division — General Birney's — on the left. 

This brought the left of the leading brigade close up to an old log house 
near the road and in the rear of which was quite a large apple orchard. 
In this orchard Seelev's battery was posted, just to the left of the log 
house, and the Twelfth placed to support it. A detail of one hundred 
men from the Sixteenth Massachusetts were ordered to occupy the log 
house and make holes between the logs to shoot through. This regiment 
at that time was next on the right of the Twelfth, and the Eleventh New 
Jersey on its left. The Emmitsburg road, at this place, runs along on 
the crest of quite a ridge, so that Humphreys's advance to it was seen by 
the enemy, and opened upon by two of his batteries — one at the left and 
one almost directly in front. The latter was soon silenced by the well 
directed shots from Seelev's guns ; but, until this was done, the position 
of the Twelfth was far from being a very pleasant or safe one. The 
artillery duel between the two batteries brought the regiment in direct 
range of the shots from the rebel one, but fortunately none were seriously 

The regiment remained in the orchard for an hour or more, when it 
moved obliquely to the right a few rods and took position on the road just 
to the right of what is now known as the Smith house. 

The battle was now raging with increasing fury on the left, where 
Birney was vainly trying to hold his own, assisted and encouraged by 
General Sickles, who was giving his whole attention to what, as yet, was 
the most exposed and hardest pressed part of his line. 

As at Chancellorsville, the Third Corps was again destined to receive 
the first attacks, and withstand the most determined assaults of the enemy 

122 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

But in this battle, as claimed by General Meade and his friends, it was 
more the unwise choice of its commander than unavoidable necessity that 
gave it so dangerous a prominence on the field, as not only to invite its 
own destruction, but to hazard the safety of the whole army 

On the other hand, General Sickles and his favorites assert that, but for 
his bold decisive action in taking the advance position and bringing on 
the battle when and where he did, the first day's battle at Gettysburg 
would have been the last, as General Meade was already seriously con- 
templating a retreat ; and, if the Confederates had attacked before he had 
a chance to fall back that night, Little Round Top, the key to the position 
of the Union army, would certainly have been lost to him. General 
Sickles also claims that the position taken by him was in accordance with 
Meade's orders. 

But whether by or against the orders of General Meade — for there has 
been much dispute about it — it was none the less a bold and dangerous 
one, inviting attack upon both sides of the exposed angle at the Peach 
Orchard, while supported upon neither. But, if a tyro in the science of 
war selected it, heroes held it ; and it was only taken from them by over- 
whelming numbers of Longstreet's veteran legions after a most determined 
and stubborn resistance. It was the attack upon this angle at half past 
three o'clock p. m. that opened the second day's fight at Gettysburg 

After a sharp reminder from the enemy's artillery that General Hum- 
phreys was advancing his division upon dangerous ground, the rebel bat- 
teries ceased firing in that direction, and turned their attention to General 
Birney's position upon which his infantry were now making desperate 

For nearly two hours more the men of the Second Division, excepting 
the Third Brigade which had been sent to assist Birney, lay inactive along 
the Emmitsburg road listening to the sound of battle on their left, which, 
in the mean time, had increased into such a roar and crash of arms as to 
make even the veteran's heart to tremble, who, with qviickening pulse and 
thrilling nerves, awaits the coming tide of awful carnage that is crushing 
the fatal angle like an egg-shell, and will soon strike them with irresist- 
ible force and power 

And still the roar of battle, every moment increasing in volume and 
intensity, continues until the Peach Orchard, where fought the gallant 
Second New Hampshire, and the Wheat Field, where the " Fighting 
Fifth" stood and its heroic colonel fell, are both in the possession of the 
enemy The Union battle-line has seemingly been bent back upon itself, 
until the sound of conflict first heard upon the left now comes from far 
around toward our rear 

It is now nearly 6 o'clock. Sickles, with his shattered leg, has been 
carried from the- field, and Barksdale, of ante-bellum notoriety as a "pro- 
slavery fire-eater," whose troops were foremost in the attack, has sealed 
his convictions with his life's blood. 

~Yczc Hampshire Volunteers. 123 

••Is there no force of the enemy on our front. Have they received a 
check on our left, or are they getting ready to attack our flank?" >' Have 
we got to fight here, or shall we be ordered to fall back before we are 
surrounded ? " 

These were the questions eagerly asked and doubtfully answered 
by the officers and men of the whole brigade as well as of the Twelfth 
Regiment, as all began to hope that the day might close and leave them 
out, though many were more willing to meet the worse than longer 
dread it. 

"If it must come, let it come now." said one of the impatient ones ; and 
come it did, with a furious force that scattered the skirmish line like strands 
of straw, and struck the main line a staggering blow 

Front, left, and close pressing upon the rear, the battle-blast strikes and 
circles around Carr's brigade, twisting it up and forcing it back into the 
very vortex of the tempest. 

With impetuous energy Perry's and Wright's brigades, of Andrews's 
division, charge over the ridge in front, that has hidden them from view, 
and strike with sudden violence the whole of General Humphreys's front 
along the Emmitsburg road. 

Held in reserve by General Longstreet, their corps commander, whose 
part and purpose was to turn the Federal left, these victors of many a 
hard-fought field, had been listening to the sound of their advancing 
lines, until victory seemed again about to rest upon the Confederate ban- 
ners, and theirs the proud and special mission of performing the last and 
crowning act. 

With screeches and veils, mingling with the volleys of musketry, they 
press on against a storm of canister and Minie-balls that is lining the 
opposite side of the highway with their wounded and dead ; for they are 
now face to face with men who, though less sanguine of success, are no 
less brave and determined. 

But this was not all, nor the worst. While Anderson, unseen and un- 
heard, was approaching in front, the attack, for a time delayed, had been 
renewed upon the left. Barksdale's Mississippians and Kershaw's South 
Carolinians, who joined hands and crushed in the angle at the Peach 
Orchard, no longer held back from fear of being flanked and possibly 
captured themselves by reinforcements from the Federal right, and, 
having strengthened their re-formed lines by fresh troops, are now pushing 
forward with great energy and determination, at right angles with the 
Emmitsburg road, with little now left to oppose them from the Peach 
Orchard to Humphreys's left. 

General Birney, now in command of the corps, perceiving that some- 
thing must be done, and that quickly, or Humphreys's left would soon be 
broken in and doubled up, and his whole division at the mercy of the 
enemy, but knowing nothing of Anderson's close advance upon his front, 
orders General Humphreys to throw back his left so as to confront and 

124 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

stay, if possible, the rushing, crushing tide that is about to break upon it 
from that direction. 

This order proves to be a very unfortunate one, for before it can be 
executed, or even communicated to General Carr, Wright's brigade of 
Georgians has attacked his front, and Barksdale's command is crowding 
upon his flank. 

Scarcely has the Twelfth opened fire upon Wright's attacking columns, 
when Captain Langley. commanding the regiment, receives the order to 
change fronts to the rear; and no wonder that he is almost afraid 
to attempt its execution, though he has assured General Carr that his 
men can be relied upon, for the order at such a crisis meant much more 
than the reader, unless himself a veteran, can possibly understand. 

To unflinchingly face danger and death is one thing, but to turn your 
back thereto and stand firm and unshaken is such a different and more 
difficult thing, that only the bravest of the best disciplined troops can be 
relied upon to do it. 

It is also well known that no troops will long withstand an attack upon 
their flank. 

Yet here are men that while breasting the full blast of the raging tem- 
pest of battle in their front, and staggering under a terrific assault upon 
their flank, are called upon to execute one of the most dangerous and 
difficult movements that can be made by any soldiers while under fire. 

It was hardly possible that any regiment, much less a whole brigade, 
could remain intact while endeavoring to obey the command, and it 
seemed but the folly of madness to attempt it. But the attempt was 
made, and while partially successful in the movement, the result, as 
might have been expected, was sorrowfully disastrous. It was simply 
swinging open the gate to the enemy ; and the order to retreat, which 
almost immediately followed it, but an invitation for Anderson s brigades 
to walk through and occupy the ground that it was no longer possible for 
Humphreys's troops to hold. Had the last order come first, as it doubtless 
would, had General Birney known of Andersons close advance, the 
almost helpless situation that the regiments of General Carr's brigade 
soon found themselves in, might have been partially avoided. 

But no order at all would have been much better than both, for what 
might have been for awhile withstood, until reinforcements could have 
been ordered up to cover a retreat, now poured its almost unobstructed 
torrent of destruction through the widening breach, sweeping regiments 
and batteries and finally the whole division in confusion from the field. 

No, not all, for some — too manv, alas ' remain ; and the ground where, 
but a few moments ago, in life and hope they stood, is now covered with 
their bodies rent and torn — the dying and the dead. 

But where is that little band of the battle-scarred survivors of Chancel- 
lorsville, scarcely larger than a regimental division, that had there stood 
like a granite rock in the very centre of the shock? 

^Yezc Hampshire J'oliuiteers. 125 

We have, so far, said but little of them as a separate regiment in briefly 
describing the position and part taken by its brigade and division, because, 
like all the rest of Humphreys's command, it had nothing to do, and was 
but little exposed to the enemy's fire until it moved up to the support of 
Seelev's battery in the apple orchard. Here it first came under fire for 
the day, and was for a time exposed to quite a severe cannonade from a 
battery of the enemy, engaged in exchanging salutes of solid shot and 
shell with the battery it was supporting, as already mentioned. 

After taking position on the Emmitsburg road, as previously referred 
to, the Twelfth was but little exposed to the enemy's guns, until just 
before the attack of the rebel infantry in front. 

His artillery was then turned again upon Carr's brigade, which was at 
last to take its part in the contest, and the regiment was again exposed to 
his shells. Turnbull's battery had taken position next on the right of the 
Twelfth, and .Seelev's still held a position a few rods to the left. This 
made the position ot the regiment a trying one, located as it was between 
those two batteries, both of which responded to the rebel guns, and of 
course drew their fire upon them. 

But the fear of killing their own men, about to attack on two sides, was 
the saving hope of the regiments on the left of the brigade, that were the 
first to receive and resist those attacks, for most of the shells went 
harmlessly over the heads of the men, exploding among the troops in 

But the}' had been fortunately saved there, only to be terribly cut to 
pieces a little later : and the chance to fight was never given them until 
the musket balls had done what the cannon shot had threatened. 

The Twelfth, in the attempt of the brigade to avoid the coming cyclone 
by changing front, and then to extricate itself by retreating, was caught 
and hurled into the very vortex of the battle, where helpless, like the rest 
of the brigade, to either withstand or defend, it was so badly shattered 
and scattered that when, a few moments later, it again faced the foe, but 
little more than a sergeant's squad of it was left to unite with other regi- 
mental fragments of the brigade, and advance with reinforcements from 
the Second Corps that had come up, and help retake the ground that 
had been yielded. 

Lieutenant French, commanding Company F, was shot through the 
head just as he was receiving from Captain Shackford — then acting as 
major — the order to change front, and fell lifeless at the captain's feet. 

About the same time both the state and national colors went down, their 
intrepid bearers falling almost at the same instant. Sergeant Howe fell 
dead with the state colors still held in his death grasp, as if his last 
thought was for their safety, and Sergeant Parker, mortally wounded, 
yielded up the flag of his country into other hands only when his own 
could no longer hold it; while Corporal Brown who reached to take the 
nag fell lifeless himself in the act of doing so. Corporal Knight was 

[26 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

also killed, and most or all the rest of the color-guard were either killed 
or wounded. 

Captain Shackford and Lieutenants Morrill, Marsh, had been 

severely wounded, and other officers slightly, leaving Lieutenant Fernal 
almost alone in command of the few brave men of the regiment who were 
left together on the field. 

Within a radius of a lew rods from where the colors went down in 
blood, there were more men of the regiment left dead and dangerously 
wounded on the ground than are now left to defend them. And such 
was the proportional loss of the other regiments on the left of the brig- 
ade. But, although by one fell swoop, the black-winged angel of death 
and destruction had covered the plain with the wounded and slain, vet 
not all that were missing could he count among his victims. Many are 
prisoners in the enemy's hands and soon to be retaken ; many others have 
been unavoidably separated from their regiments and each other, and will 
soon join their comrades who are now once more beneath their banners 
that are still waving defiantly in the smoke of battle ; while others still 
are skulking in the rear, or playing sick or wounded in field hospitals — 
a disgrace to themselves, their regiments, their state, and their country 

With scarcely more than a color-guard Lieutenant Fernal would have 
been justified in leading his men to the rear, instead of the front ; but he- 
was not the man to do that without orders, so long as he had a man left. 
Stung with madness at the wretched work of giving away so much ground 
at such a sacrifice, like a lion fully aroused, he shook his sword defiantly 
toward the enemy, and then waving it over his head as a beckoning sign 
to his men and with a trumpet shout " Come on" he led his little band of 
veteran heroes straight back over the field of their discomfiture — for they 
felt they had not been defeated — increasing his command with released 
prisoners from his own regiment as he advanced and helping, in no small 
degree for the smallness of his force, to drive the rebels whose turn it 
was now to run almost as quickly from the field as they had taken it. 

This was done by the second line of reinforcements, the first having 
been used up in staying the tide that was now turned back. But neither 
the first nor second counter attack would have been successful on this part 
of the line had not the rebel forces that had so easily broken and swept 
it back become broken and disorganized themselves by their impetuous 
onset and too eager pursuit. 

How many other regiments of the brigade, if any, rallied and retraced 
their steps back nearly to the positions they had first held is not known ; 
but certainly none did it quicker or with a less number of officers and 
men than the Twelfth New Hampshire. 

The whole corps, or what was left of it, was now ordered to fall back 
to the main line, where, beyond all question, it should first have been 
placed, and to which it should have retreated before its right wing was 
nearly as badly crippled as its left had been. But if Sickles was in 

S\'czf Hampshire Volunteers. 127 

fault, Meade was by no means blameless ; for where the greatest respon- 
sibility rests, there the greatest care is required ; and though the former 
had repeatedly requested an inspection of his position, the latter had neg- 
lected to do so until the enemy's guns opened upon it, and then it was too 

The following description from the pen of Col. J B. Bachelder, histo- 
rian of the battle of Gettysburg, gives a good idea of the perilous position 
of the Twelfth on the afternoon of the second day : 

The Twelfth New Hampshire was at that time attached to the Second Divis- 
ion, Third Corps, commanded by that gallant soldier, Major-General Humphreys. 
It formed a portion of Can's brigade, of which the First, Eleventh, and Sixteenth 
Massachusetts, the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, and the Eleventh New Jersey Vol- 
unteers were the remaining regiments — a brigade sustaining a record second to 
none in the Army of the Potomac. This brigade held the extreme right of the 
Third Corps, and was formed along the Emmitsburg road, slightly on the poste- 
rior slope of a ridge supported by the New York "Excelsior" brigade. Gra- 
ham's brigade of Birney's division lay on its left and held the salient of the line 
at the Peach Orchard, against which General Longstreet made a furious assault 
with Barksdale's and Wilcox's brigades, breaking the infantry lines, forcing the 
artillery to retire, and carrying the position, thus threatening General Humphreys's 
left, and compelling him "to change front to the rear." During the execution 
of this difficult evolution. Longstreet's victorious troops continued to advance, 
their attack seriously embarrassing the movements of Humphreys's division, and 
at the same time Perry's and Blight's brigades which had advanced under cover 
of the ridge attacked Humphreys's right. It was a fearful moment and will be 
remembered by every participant as one of the most trying, thrilling, and excit- 
ing scenes of their experience. General Humphreys could readily have with- 
drawn his command, but such an act would have endangered the success of the 
battle and perhaps the loss of the army; and he instantly decided to hold the 
enemy in check, even at the sacrifice of his own life and his whole command, 
until a new line could be formed in his rear, which was subsequently done and 
brought up by General Meade in person. 

General Humphreys, placing himself in the midst of his command, was 
everywhere present, sustaining and encouraging his men. His officers fell thick 
and fast about him. At this moment Captain Chester of his staff was seen to 
spring with a convulsive start. Turning to his commander he said, " General, 
I'm shot." General Humphreys, who had noted the gallantry of this officer, 
sprang to his assistance, clasped him in his arms, and sustained him in the sad- 
dle until Captain Humphreys, his son, could take him in charge. An orderly 
took the horse to lead him from the field, when at that instant a round shot killed 
the horse and carried away the orderly's head. 

At this moment General Humphreys's horse, bleeding from seven bullet 
wounds, was struck by a shell and springing convulsively into the air, threw his 
rider violently to the ground, but fortunately without seriously injuring him. 
Just then Captain Humphreys was shot through the arm, and General Carr and 
Captains McClellan and Cavada each had their horses killed. 

A portion of the guns of Turnbull's battery retired through the infantry with a 

128 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

prolonged firing as they went. Others were drawn off hv members of the Six- 
teenth Massachusetts Regiment, and some were captured. It was then that Gen- 
eral Barksdale fell mortally wounded. 

In the very centre of this terrible conflict stood the Twelfth Xcw Hampshire 
Regiment, while thick and fast fell its brave and gallant members. 

After sunset Anderson's division, heavily reinforced, made a last de- 
termined attack upon this part, now nearly the centre of the Union line, 
which it succeeded in breaking, and frightening General Meade so badly, 
when the important information reached him, that he at once ordered 
General Pleasanton to get ready to cover a retreat with his cavalry 
But General Wright, whose brigade had actually pierced the centre of 
the Union line, not being properly supported, was obliged to fall back, 
and Pleasanton s orders for retreat were countermanded. 

And thus, by the temerity of a rebel brigadier, and the timiditv of the 
Federal commander-in-chief, the Union cause was made then and there 
to tremble in the scale of battle, and to come nearer perhaps being lost 
than when Pickett, on the following day, proudly led his brave and battle- 
bronzed legions against the cannon-crowned crest of Cemeterv Hill. 

But how little did Meade's arm}' then know of the peril of that hour 

General Carr's brigade, before this, had been ordered back into the 
reserve lines, and the Twelfth took no part consequentlv in the closing 
strife of this memorable day. 

General Humphreys, referring to the enemy's attack upon his division 
on the second day, says : 

Seeley's batten' had now opened upon the enemy's infantry as they began 
to advance. Turnbull's batten - was likewise directed against them, and I was 
about to throw somewhat forward the left of my infantry and engage the enemy 
with it, when I received orders from General Birnev (General Sickles having 
been dangerously wounded and carried from the field) to throw back mv left and 
form a line oblique to and in the rear of the one I then held, and was informed 
that the First Division would complete the line to Round Top ridge. This I did 
under a heavy fire of artillery and infantry from the enemy, who now advanced 
on my whole front. * * * 

My infantry now engaged the enemy's, but my left was in the air (although I 
extended it as far as possible with my Second Brigade), and being the only 
troops in the field, the enemy's whole attention was directed to m) division, 
which was forced hack slowly, firing as they receded. * * * 

At this time I received orders through a staff officer from General Birney to 
withdraw to the Round Top ridge. 

This order I complied with, retiring very slowly, continuing the contest with 
the enemy, whose fire of artillery and infantry was destructive in the extreme. 

Upon arriving at the crest of the ridge mentioned, the remnants of mv division 
formed on the left of General Hancock's troops, whose artillery opened upon the 
enemy, about one hundred yards distant. 

The infantry joined, and the enemy broke and was driven from the field, 

JYezv Hampshire Volunteers. 129 

rapidly followed by Hancock's troops, and the remnants of my two brigades, 
who took many prisoners and brought off two pieces of our artillery which had 
been left after all the horses were killed. * * * 

It was now dusk and the contest for the day was closed. Its severity may be 
judged by the fact that the loss in killed, wounded, and missing of my division 
— five thousand strong — was two thousand and eighty-eight, of whom one hun- 
dred and seventy-one were officers, and one thousand nine hundred and seventeen 
enlisted men. * * * 

The fortune of war rarely places troops under more trying circumstances 
than those in which my division found itself on this day, and it is greatly to their 
honor that their soldierly bearing sustained the high reputation they had already 
won in the severest battles of the war. 

General Carr, in his report, refers to the attack of the enemy as follows : 

My left first became engaged, and its position was held until the regiment on 
my left (the Collins Zouaves, of the First Division) gave way, when the enemy 
advanced in considerable force on my left flank, which compelled me to change 
my front ; but no sooner was it accomplished than the enemy made his appear- 
ance on my right flank, pouring in a most destructive cross-fire. 

Notwithstanding mv apparent critical position I could and would have main- 
tained my position, but for an order received direct from General Birney, com- 
manding the corps to fall back to the crest of the hill in my rear. 

At that time I have no doubt that I could have charged on the rebels and 
driven them in confusion, for my line was still perfect and unbroken, and my 
troops in the proper spirit for the performance of such a task. In retiring I 
suffered a severe loss in killed and wounded. 

Although General Carr may have been somewhat over-sanguine of his 
ability to long maintain his position, or to drive the rebels back " in con- 
fusion " by a charge. Yet there is no doubt that a vigorous effort either 
to hold the enemy in check or to drive him back, at that time, instead of 
retreating, would have resulted in inflicting a much greater punishment 
upon the enemy with but little, if any, heavier loss to his own command. 

So few of each regiment were left from among the killed, wounded, 
and scattered, to rally around their colors, that when the division was 
re-formed to advance against the enemy, it looked like a line of color- 
guards, so thick were the battle-flags in proportion to the number of men. 

Though more than two thousand men of the division had fallen or been 
disabled, and nearly half as many more were prisoners in the enemy's 
lines, where two guns had been left, yet not a single flag had been lost. 

How the colors of the Twelfth were saved from capture will be found 
written in their history in another chapter. 

At early dawn the next morning, July 3d, the men awoke to a reveille 
of booming cannon on the right, where Gerry and Green of the Twelfth 
Corps had commenced the work of retaking the ground that they had 
been obliged to yield to Ewell's forces the night before. 

130 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

" Turn out here, boys ; don't you hear the partridges drumming? Early 
birds catch the worms you know." 

" Catch the D 1 you mean," comes the quick reply from one who 

is more cross than polite for being so early aroused from his slumbers. 

" Well, I guess he's catching them, by the sound over there, and he'll 
have us all before night, or his imps, the "Johnnies/ will, if we don't 
look out." 

" That's what I'm beginning to think, comrades," chimes in a third. 
"Don't you remember what I told you last night? Yesterday they got 
'way round our left, and after they finished up the job with us, they 
attacked our right, where they are at it again this early in the morning : 
and before noon they'll have both our wings clipped and crippled so we 
can neither fight nor fly, and then the last one of us '11 be bagged." 

" Begins to look as if you'r more'n half right, Bill, by thunder," 
breaks in a new voice, " and when this army goes nj> the Union goes 

"Yes, like Lucifer, never to rise again," suggests one of the officers, 
who has been listening. 

" Let me tell you, boys, it is now or never If we can't win a victory 
here, on our own soil, we never can. 

"This, in my opinion, is the beginning of the end. This battle-field 
is the turning point ; and I believe this day's struggle, already com- 
menced, will decide the battle." 

" Don't you think, lieutenant, that our army is getting the worst of it so 
far, from all appearances?" 

" Well, I must confess that indications, so far as we can see or under- 
stand them, are not very favorable; but it's very little we know of the 
actual situation and condition of things, considering the whole field, and 
the relative strength and positions of the two armies. 

" If all our forces are united here, as they certainly ought to be by this 
time, I don't believe 'Old Lee' has got men enough to defeat us, it 
General Meade half knows his business, and dare let his army perform 

" Yes," remarks another officer ; " but that fatal ' if has so many times 
defeated this army in other battles, that I almost tremble for the result of 
this. The appointment of Meade in place of Hooker, just on the eve of 
battle, was anything but a pleasant surprise to the whole army, and cer- 
tainly has not improved its confidence and spirit. For one, I cannot 
otherwise than consider it a great mistake. What has Meade ever done 
to bring him to the front in such a crisis as this?" 

"Nothing," comes the quick response from half a dozen at once; and 
two or three of them attempt to supplement their emphatic negatives by 
further expression of their feelings and opinions on the subject, each too 
earnest in giving his own to regard the efforts of the others. But not- 
withstanding the mixture of words, the common import was easily under- 

JCew Hampshire Volunteers. 131 

stood — that Hooker's removal, right on the eve of battle, was another 
blunder of silk-stocking dictatorship at Washington, and the appointment 
of Meade a postscript stumble in the same direction, both on the brink 
and toward the fatal abyss. 

To this there was no dissenting voice, though by this time quite a crowd 
had gathered ; but the officer who had first spoken, now slowly and 
reflectively speaks again : 

"Well, boys, that all may be, and this very day prove your words pro- 
phetic, but certainly none of us desire it. Blunder or no blunder, our 
trust and our duty is the same. If our leaders are wanting, we must not 
be ; if others let loose, we must all the firmer hold on. 

"Though this Army of the Potomac has been often defeated, as we 
know, it has never yet been destroyed, which is a greater wonder ; but 
has been preserved, and is here in force and power to-day to perform, as 
I can but believe, its great work and mission of saving this mighty 
republic for the light and hope of centuries yet to come. 

"If this nation is to go down in blood into untimely oblivion, neither 
Meade nor Hooker, nor all the military strategy of the world combined 
can save it. But if it is to rise triumphant over all its enemies, as God in 
his mercy and wisdom has we trust decreed, then, as you read on your 
hymn book covers, — 

' To doubt would be disloyalty, 
To falter is a sin.' 

"Before yon rising sun shall set, the Southern Cross will be broken, 
and the Southern Confederacy receive a blow from which it will never 

The young lieutenant, in his patriotic fervor, had become earnestly 
eloquent ; and what had begun in joke and fun ended so seriously 
impressive that it needed only the chaplain's amen to fitly close the 
morning exercises. 

It was well that the rest of the army was as ignorant as the Twelfth of 
how near their leader came to being frightened from the field but a few 
hours before, for he who thinks he is going to be beaten is half defeated 

The firing on the right increased as the morning hours passed, heavy 
volleys of musketry .plainly telling that it was something more than an 
artillery duel, and it was anxiously listened to by many thousands, in 
both armies, all earnest to know which side was gaining ground. About 
10 o'clock the firing mostly ceased, and smiling faces in the Union ranks 
proclaimed the welcome news that the rebel forces had been driven back 
on that part of the grand battle-line, until our troops had regained all that 
they had lost the night before. 

In the centre and on the left all was quiet, or comparatively so, and the 
question that each officer and man wanted answered now was, whether 

132 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

the terrible storm of battle had spent its force or another destructive blast 
was yet to come. 

General Meade wisely decides to wait and see, or, rather, his corps 
commanders, at a council of war held the night before, had so decided 
for him. 

His right wing, though somewhat cramped, is still strong ; and the 
result of the severe struggle there, just ended, relieves him of present fear 
of its being turned and taken in reverse. His left is safe, for Little 
Round Top, now impregnable, guards and protects him there ; while his 
centre still occupies the vantage ground of Cemetery Ridge, and presents 
a strong and defiant front. 

As he listens to encouraging reports from all parts of his line, and 
especially from his right, his face brightens and puts on a more hope- 
ful look than at any time before since the battle commenced ; while 
General Lee, though silent and calm as usual, shows in his impassive 
countenance that he is less quiet in mind than in manner. But hoping to 
crush, and hazarding the rebound, the Confederate chieftain has decided 
to strike one more blow ; and, taking a sweeping glance with his glass 
along the Union line, as he stands at 12 o'clock in the cupola of the col- 
lege building on Seminary Hill, determines upon what part of the line 
the blow shall fall. Failing on the right and left, he concludes to make 
his final effort against the Federal centre ; and, one hour later, one hun- 
dred and fifteen of his guns open upon General Hancock's position on 
Cemetery Ridge, from the crest of which nearly as many respond. The 
artillery duel that was now fought, for nearly two hours, across that 
valley of separation, tearing, crushing, and rending earth, rocks, and 
trees, exploding caissons, dismounting guns, and killing men and horses 
upon the opposing elevations, never before shook the earth upon any 
section of the American continent. 

And yet it is but the thunder-roar of the lightning-charged tempest that 
is soon to sweep this valley of death, and burst in terrible and almost 
resistless fury against the steel-lined ridge that will draw its lightning and 
break its force. 

It comes ; it strikes and breaks through ! but is itself broken and shat- 
tered in the attempt ; and the most threatening battle-cloud of the 
Rebellion, rolling up from the southern horizon like a billow of fire, has 
been met and dispelled by the cold mountain air of our northern skies. 

Behold the bow of promise and rejoice ! The nation has this day had 
a new birth, and her redemption is assured. 

The Third Corps, during this attack of Pickett — which for boldness, 
brilliancy, and desperate determination finds no parallel on so large a 
scale in the annals of modern warfare — held the reserve lines of support 
and was not engaged, but was more or less exposed to the enemy s artil- 
lery preceding the charge, some parts of it suffering severely General 
Can's brigade was moved to the centre about the time the charge was 

JVczi' Hampshire Volunteers. 133 

made. One or more of the Twelfth received slight wounds as they lay 
upon the ground on the rear side of the ridge, but most of the shells either 
struck and exploded on the ridge, or went far above and beyond them. 

Everyone felt that the crisis-hour of the battle had come, and such was 
the anxiety for the result that some of the regiment, had not their sense of 
duty been stronger than their fear of danger, would have left their place 
in the ranks and ascended the hill into the very cloud-burst of iron hail, 
that they might see with their own eyes what was being so desperately 
attempted by the enemy on the other side. But they knew not how soon 
they might be called upon to help stay the flood-tide of the Rebellion, and 
each one felt, as never before, an individual responsibility commensurate 
with the magnitude of the struggle and the consequences of the issue. 

The Army of the Potomac, from its first organization, had always been 
superior to its leadership, but never more so than upon this, its first great 
field of victory Here, as never before, it depended upon itself, regard- 
less of any commander, and here for the first time it proved itself more 
than a match for its hitherto successful antagonist, the Army of Northern 

Though seeing nothing of the attack or the repulse, yet to the veterans 
of the Third Corps, who lav eagerly listening in the rear, all was as 
plainly understood as heard. The first guns, speaking from the rebel 
lines, proclaim a decision of their bold commander to strike once more 
lor victory before he yields the held to its brave defenders. 

The number of these guns, the rapidity of their fire, and the concentra- 
tion of their aim, all unmistakablv announce that a desperate and deter- 
mined infantry attack is to be made upon our centre, as had been expected. 
The vigorous and defiant response of our artillery all along the line in- 
forms the rebels that the " boys in blue" are determined too, and ready 
to receive them. 

But what means this sudden silence of our batteries, while the enemy's 
guns still continue to throw their iron missiles of death and destruction 
faster than ever, as it seems, into our lines? 

Out of ammunition? Impossible ! But one reasonable explanation can 
be given. It must be to allow time for the guns to cool off, and get ready 
for more effective service that will soon be needed. Yet the fact that 
some of our batteries in the centre, where the enemy's shells fell thickest, 
are still active, is a little difficult to understand.* But soon they, too, are 
silent, and there is a perceptible diminution in the cannon chorus on the 
rebel side. Can it be only a parting salute, intended to deceive and in- 
timidate General Meade, so that the Confederate commander can more 
safely withdraw his army from the front? Or is it to attract and draw the 
Union forces to one point, while General Lee is getting ready to attack 
them in another ? 

* Some of Hancock's guns continued to be served after all the rest had ceased firing. 

134 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

Something more than either, undoubtedly, for such a mighty volume of 
sound, and so long continued, cannot all be mere brutum fid men ; nor 
has heaven and earth been shaken just to produce a cloud of smoke and 
dust for the enemy to hide behind. 

Soon the Federal guns open again, and the enemy's too; but the for- 
mer, gradually increasing in number and rapidity of service, plainly tell 
that the rebel infantry is advancing to the charge, and that the hour of 
imminent peril for the army and nation is at hand. 

And when, a few moments later, our batteries burst into one terrific 
grape and canister crash, while the enemy's guns are silent, and then a 
roll of musketry is heard along the ridge, it is known to all that the 
moment of the life or death struggle has come, and the men listen with 
breathless fear lest they next shall hear the rebel screech instead of the 
welcome cheer. 

"Hark! Hear that infernal yell? " 

"Yes, but it's only their charging yell, for there is no break or check 
to our infantry fire yet." 

" But there is now ; O, if we could only see ! " 

" Patience, comrade, and be calm and we shall soon know — " 

" That the victory is ours, thank God, for there's the sound that I've 
been listening for, " 

And long and loud the triumphant shout goes up from that blood-crim- 
soned but victory-crowned crest, and is soon caught up and echoed and 
re-echoed until the whole army knew, as well as the survivors of that 
heroic phalanx that had received and repelled that all-pending charge, 
that Lee's last desperate effort had failed and the field of Gettysburg was 

From the foregoing, some idea may be gotten of the Union soldier's 
reflections and knowledge concerning the progress and result of that 
momentous struggle of the third day at Gettysburg, known as Pickett's 
grand charge, though he had no means of information except the sounds 
that came to his ears. 

And thus ended, what has already been accorded to it by the pen of the 
historian, and what it will ever remain so long as the historv of nations 
exists, one of the great and decisive battles of the world. But though 
taking, at once and undisputed, a place in the first class, yet its proper 
place or rank therein, time, reaching into the distant future, can alone 

The spot where General Armstead fell — the high-water mark of the 
great American Rebellion — was not only the pivotal point of this battle 
and the war, and therefore the grave of slavery and the birthplace of 
universal freedom on Columbia's broad and beautiful domain, but it was 
and is the real Itasca from which now flows and shall continue to flow for 
centuries to come, a stream that shall purify her cities and replenish her 
fields ; and make even her barren mountain tops and her desert plains fur- 

J\ t czl' Hampshire Volunteers. 135 

nish sustenance for millions now unborn, and her valleys and prairies to 
blossom as the rose. 

Could the patriot heroes who yielded up their lives upon this battle- 
field have seen, with their last wishful look, the greatness, grandeur, and 
glory that their life's blood was to purchase and secure for the countless 
generations of coming time, they would have died, as some of them did, 
with a smile of satisfaction upon their countenances. 

The next day was the glorious Fourth of July, and a glorious day 
indeed it was for the nation, with her banners floating triumphantly over 
the field of Gettysburg and upon the ramparts of Vicksburg 

Early in the morning Captains Thomas E. Barker and Edwin E. Bedee 
arrived on the field, having recovered from their wounds received at 
Chancellorsville, and the former immediately took command of the regi- 

The Twelfth, like all the rest of the army, except the cavalry, remained 
all day inactive on the field, for it was not known certainly until the next 
day that the enemy was retreating. 

During the afternoon and night the rain descended in torrents, filling 
the burial trenches that had been dug before the rain commenced ; and 
some of them, filled with dead bodies, but left uncovered, presented a 
sickening sight the next morning amid the horrors of war. 

But from sounds, not less than sights, will some of the fortunate sur- 
vivors of that battle remember with sad hearts that field of suffering and 
death, even after the cannon and musket were silent, as they hunted by 
the moon's pale light for comrades who had fallen in the strife of the day 
Cries for water, groans of agony, and prayers for mercy and relief by 
death, could be heard from every direction. 

But when all such pitiful sounds have ceased and solemn silence reigns, 
one visit to a battle-field while the dead are yet unburied is enough for a 

"When all is past, it is humbling to tread 
O'er the weltering: field of the tombless dead." 


As showing the terrible realities of war, and its attending hardships and 
suffering that end not with the battle, the following graphic description 
from the pen of General Imboden, of the Confederate army, who had 
charge of the long train of the wounded that left the field of Gettysburg 
at 4 o'clock on the afternoon of the 4th of July on its retreat southward, 
will be found especially interesting : 

Shortly after noon the very windows of heaven seemed to have been opened. 
Rain fell in dashing torrents, and in a little while the whole face of the earth was 
covered with water. The meadows became small lakes, raging streams ran 
across the road in every depression of the ground. The storm increased in fury 
every moment, canvas was no protection against it, and the poor wounded lying 
upon the hard, naked boards of the wagon-bodies were drenched by the cold 

136 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

rain. Horses and mules were blinded and maddened by the storm and became 
almost unmanageable. The roar of the winds and waters made it almost impos- 
sible to communicate orders; night was rapidly approaching and there was dan- 
ger that in the darkness the confusion would become "worse confounded." 

About 4 p. iu. the head of the column was put in motion and begun the ascent 
of the mountain. The train was seventeen miles long when drawn out on the 
road. It was moving rapidly and from every wagon issued wails of agony. For 
four hours I galloped along, passing to the front and heard more — it was too 
dark to see — of the horrors of war than I had witnessed from the battle of Bull Run 
to that day. In the wagons were men wounded and mutilated in every conceivable 
way- Some had their legs shattered by a shell or Minie-ball ; some were shot 
through their bodies; others had arms torn to shreds; some had received a ball 
in the face, or a jagged piece of shell had lacerated their heads. 

Scarcely one in a hundred had received adequate surgical aid ; and many had 
been without food for thirty-six hours. 

Their ragged, dirty, and bloody clothes, all clotted and hardened with blood, 
were rasping the tender, inflamed lips of their gaping wounds. Very few of 
the wagons had even straw in them, and all were without springs. The road 
was rough and rockv- The jolting was enough to have killed strong, sound 
men. From nearly every wagon as the horses trotted along such cries and 
shrieks as these greeted the ears : 

"OGod! Why can't I die?" 

"My God! Will no one have mercy and kill me, and end my misery?" 

"Oh ! stop one minute, take me out and leave me by the roadside to die." 

" I am dying ! lam dying! Oh, my poor wife and children! What will be- 
come of you ? " 

Some were praying, others were uttering the most fearful oaths and impreca- 
tions that despair cotdd wring from them in their agony. 

Occasionally a wagon would be passed from which only low, deep moans and 
groans could be heard. 

No help could be given to any of the sufferers. On, on, we must move on. 

The storm continued and the darkness was fearful. There was no time even 
to fill a canteen with water for a dying man ; for, except the drivers and guards, 
disposed in compact bodies every half mile, all were wounded in that vast train 
of human misery. 

No language can convey an idea of the horrors of that most horrible of all 
nights of our long and bloody war. 

The ground where the regiment lay, or tried to that night, was almost 
flooded with water, and some of the men stood up or sat down on stumps 
or stones, while others soundly slept, stretched out at full length in mud 
and water beneath, and a constantly increasing supply of the latter freely 
bestowed upon them from the heavens above. 

It would not take more than one ngiht's bivouac like this, without any 
part of the experience of the day before, to make some of those who 
seem to think that the Government is too liberal in bestowing pensions 
upon the Union soldiers to seriously reconsider the matter for the remain- 

~Yczc Hampshire Volunteers. 137 

der of their lives, and, dying repentant, leave all their property, in trust, 
for the aid and support of soldier's homes. 

As soon as light enough to see, a move was made to higher ground, 
but the regiment still remained in the woods. The forenoon was spent 
by the men in trying to get warm inside and dry out, for notwithstanding 
it was in the hot month of July, the men had been so drenched and soaked 
that all were more or less chilled. 

Two days more passed and no movement of the army, although on the 
6th several orders were received to be ready to march at a moment's 
notice, but as often countermanded. 

A statement was circulated on this day that our cavalry had destroyed 
the enemy's pontoon bridge across the Potomac at Falling Waters. It 
might as well have remained untouched, so far as any advantage there- 
from accrued to our army. 

By 3 o'clock on the morning of the 7th the Third Corps was get- 
ting ready to move ; and, half an hour later, it was on the road to 
Emmitsburg, where the First Brigade halted until 1.15 p. m., and then 
pushed on to Mechanicstown, a distance of eighteen miles, and biv- 
ouacked about a mile from the town. 

The 8th brought ra J n and sunshine with a continuation of the march 
southward as far as Frederick City, the march commencing at 6 o'clock 
in the morning, and ending at 10 o'clock at night. 

The next day General Can* took command of the division, General 
Humphreys accepting the position of chief of staff to General Hooker. 

At 5 o'clock in the morning the troops were again on the road toward 
Middleton, reaching there a few hours later Here rations were issued, 
and, after a brief rest, the march was resumed at 10 a. m. and continued to 
South Mountain. Starting again at 6 p. m., another march of four miles 
was made over the mountain to Fox Gap. It was nearly 9 o'clock be- 
fore the Twelfth encamped for the night, but a short distance down from 
the top of the mountain. 

On the 10th Gen. Henry Prince assumed command of the division, and 
General Carr was returned to his own brigade. 

It was nearly 10 A. m. when the division again moved forward, march- 
ing down the west side of the mountain to Keedysville ; and halting there 
from 1 to 5 p. m., it moved to near Sharpsburg, crossing Little Antietam 
on a stone bridge, and bivouacking about a mile beyond at 7 o'clock in 
the evening. 

Here rest and sleep were expected, but instead of either there came at 
10 p. m. an order to move again ; and, without even a resting halt, five 
miles more were left behind, the division finally stopping not far from 
Boonsborough about 3 o'clock the next morning. 

The whole division here bivouacked in a large wheat field upon which 
the wheat had been cut and stacked up to dry. 

138 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

No small share of the wheat was utilized as beds for the weary men, 
and feed for the tired and hungry horses. 

This was a hard and trying march ; but it was chasing Lee back into 
Virginia, instead of following him on his raid into the North, and the 
courage of the troops was good and helped them along. 

During the day, which was very hot, the men suffered considerably, 
but the four hours halt in the afternoon greatly relieved them. 

During the march some of the old troops found themselves again on the 
battle-field of Antietam. 

During a short halt made near where the battle commenced, these old 
veterans, as they felt themselves to be, related many incidents of that 
battle ; and much was said by them in relation to the merits and demerits 
of General McClellan, and the gain or loss to the country arising from 
his retirement from active service. There was a wide difference of opin- 
ion noticeable even among his old soldiers ; but the majority seemed to 
think him too slow a coach to run on the Richmond route. 

For the next four days the army made but little progress, the Third 
Corps remaining nearly stationary 

The reason for this will soon be apparent. It seemed as if General 
Meade were waiting for the rear guard of the retreating rebels to safely 
pioneer his advance. It was only necessary for Lee's rear guard to face 
about, to at once check Meade's pursuit, and the generals in command of 
the advance Union forces were constantly warned not to bring on a gen- 
eral engagement. It was the hare following the bear, so far as the two 
commanders were concerned. 

At Falling Waters there was some growling by the bear, as he turned 
around and showed his teeth, and immediately, as if badly frightened, a 
part of Meade's army — one division at least — took the back track and 
marched swiftly through Tilghmanton and Fair Play, over the battle-field 
of Antietam again, to Sharpsburg, bivouacking about two miles beyond 
the town at 1.30 p. m. 

This, however, was on the 15th, two days after Lee with his main 
army had crossed the Potomac at Williamsport without serious molesta- 
tion from a victorious pursuing army, reinforced by several thousand 
men, close upon his heels. 

The reason of the previous delay of several days was now easily un- 
derstood by the privates as well as the generals. Lee's pontoon bridge 
across the Potomac at Falling Waters had been destroyed by our cavalry 
by direction of General French, acting without orders, and the heavy 
rains had rendered the river unfordable. 

Escape for the defeated, retreating, discouraged, and almost exhausted 
rebel army now seemed impossible ; and the end of the war appeared 
nearer than ever before since its commencement. 

Here stern necessity compelled General Lee to face about and stand at 
bay It was a trying and critical situation and condition of things for the 

AVri' Hampshire Volunteers. 139 

Confederate commander — nearly out of ammunition for his guns, and 
quite destitute of food for his men, with a swollen torrent deep and wide 
before him, his bridges burned, and a powerful and exultant army close 
upon his rear and crowding him to the very verge — but the Federal 
Chief, as if too magnanimous to make an enemy's necessity his oppor- 
tunitv, though that was the very game he was trying to play, stood 
accommodatingly back, and kindly and patiently waited three or four 
davs until his unfortunate antagonist could build log rafts and improvise 
bridges to get his men and guns across ! 

Of all the blunders that the Government, its officers and generals, ever 
made during the whole war — and there were many — none, certainly 
none, can reasonably compare with this. To the careful and unbiased 
student of American history, it must and will stand out as the most con- 
spicuous and inexcusable of them all. 

It is sad to contemplate how many thousands of lives might have been 
saved, and the incalculable amount of suffering and sorrow that might 
have been avoided by ending the war at Williamsport instead of Appo- 

Lincoln was so greatly and painfully disappointed, that with all his 
kindness and forbearance, he could not withhold an official expression of 
his feelings, in terms implying strong dissatisfaction of Meade's lack of 
courage and energy in following up Lee's defeated and dispirited army, 
after its final repulse at Gettysburg. It was a just and deserving rebuke, 
and was so keenly felt by General Meade that he at once tendered his 
resignation, which, however, was not accepted. 

Of this " marvelous escape," as it has been called by an eminent histo- 
rian, no one had greater cause to complain than those of the rank and file 
who by their long suffering and heroism had made that escape impossi- 
ble, if anything had been done to prevent it. 

True it was, and gladly so, that Lee's hitherto victorious legions had 
met with a signal defeat, and the free North was no longer invaded or 
threatened by their presence ; but the richest fruits of this great victory, 
that the Union Volunteers had won at such a sacrifice, were allowed to 
drop unplucked and rot upon the very soil that had been enriched by 
their own blood, and the blood of their dead and wounded comrades. 

And it is in their behalf, and in justice to their memory, that this 
defenceless delay and neglect — little better, if not " worse than a crime" — 
is especially alluded to in this history- Whoever else was at fault, sure it 
is that he who carried the musket was not. 

Among all the questions of fact and theory, or of imaginary specula- 
tions, as to the whys and wherefores of the great error of permitting Lee's 
army to cross the Potomac, no one has ever dared by tongue or pen to 
even insinuate that those who really had the work to do of stopping him, 
were not only then and there ready and willing to perform it, but were 
impatient to attack, and dissatisfied and indignant that they were not 
allowed the privilege of doing so. 

140 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

The average judgment of the rank and tile of that army then, as many 
times before and afterward, was incomparably superior to that of its com- 
mander, with all his corps advisors. And if General Meade had con- 
sulted them, stating the whole facts of the situation as far as he knew 
them, instead of his major-generals, and acted accordingly, Lincoln 
would have had no reason to have bitterly complained of the result. 

But, as before referred to, now that it was too late for special good and 
but little danger of doing the enemy harm, there was great haste mani- 
fested. The run from Falling Waters to Sharpsburg — for it was more 
of a race than a march — was a painful reminder of some of the forced 
marches toward Gettysburg a week or two before. No time was given 
the men for several hours to eat, drink, or rest. 

With no breakfast to start on, and no halt for dinner, on, on, they push 
their weary way, while constantly from the head of the column comes 
back the order " Close up, close up," it is no wonder that some, thinking 
that without adequate cause they were being treated more like " dumb 
driven cattle" than human beings, grew savagely cross, and that the 
murmur of their grumbling protests grew louder despite the efforts of the 
officers to check it. If the game had not already escaped, there would 
have been some reason for the mad chase. Nature's calls for rest and 
food were urgent and imperative, the latter being answered at the expense 
of one or two sutlers, whose stock in trade was soon disposed ot by 
involuntary distribution. 

The morn was cloudy, but the day clear and hot, and the suffering 
great. This was followed the next day by a hard, toilsome march, of 
twelve or fifteen miles, over South Mountain and through Brownsville to 
Pleasant Valley ; and on the 17th the Third Corps crossed the Potomac at 
Harper's Ferry and encamped for the night on Boliver Heights. 

As the troops marched past the engine-house where " Old John Brown" 
heroically defended himself against the combined attack of the state 
militia and citizens, they struck up the old refrain connected with his 
name ; and who that chimed in on the chorus, as all did, could help 
thinking it true in a broader sense than ever dreamed of that 


" — his soul is marching on." 

Again on the Virginia side of the river, the march was continued through 
Hillsborough, Wood Grove, Upperville, Piedmont, Markham, Manassas 
Gap, to Wapping Heights and Front Royal. 

At two or three places along this route, the Twelfth bivouacked near 
where the regiment encamped the fall before on its march from Berlin to 
Falmouth. "Much of the way," writes one of the Twelfth, "was 
hemmed in by hills and mountains, and reminded us of our own moun- 
tain home." 

Blackberries, large, ripe, and delicious were very plentiful, and the 
many fruit lunches that the boys were privileged to enjoy at every halt 

JVciv Hampshire Volunteers. 141 

and camp along the march proved of great value to them both as a food 
and a medicine. Many who were suffering from stomach and bowel 
affections were greatly helped or entirely cured. 

Concerning the engagement near Front Royal, called Wapping 
Heights, the following description from the diary of Captain Musgrove 
will be found both accurate and interesting : 

Early Thursday morning, July 17th, we started again, and leaving the War- 
rington road, took the one leading through Manassas Gap to Front Royal. The 
road was up and down steep hills, over rocks, and through brooks. The road 
thus hard and the day hot, we were glad to halt and stack arms about four miles 
from Front Royal. Here the cavalry men told us that the " Rebs" were but two 
or three miles in advance, and soon we saw a part of the Third Brigade 
advance as skirmishers and very soon open fire. They continued to advance 
and the reserve to follow up, with the remainder of the brigade in line of battle. 

We had a fine view of this advance. As expected, our turn to move forward 
soon came. The enemy fell slowlv back for about a mile, we following, when 
the firing commenced to grow warmer, and the enemy opened upon us with 
their artillery, but fell short of reaching us and did us but little harm. 

We took quite a number of prisoners as we moved onward. Two rebels, 
when they saw a captain fall in our lines, threw down their guns and ran and 
helped him to our rear, thus getting into our lines. 

Darkness coming on, we lay down to rest on the ground by our arms, with 
equipments all on, ready to spring into line at a moment's warning. We had no 
permission to sleep, even in that condition, but as the order was to rest, and 
fatigued as we were, we soon fell asleep and did not wake up until morning, 
although we lay on the rocks upon the side of a hill so steep that we had to get 
our heels against a stone to keep from sliding down. 

We expected a renewal of the fight the next day, but in the morning there were 
no rebels to be found, and we advanced to within a mile of Front Royal, when 
a single shell sent over by the enemy caused us to halt, form a line of battle 
again, and in this way we moved forward upon ground perfectly awful to march 
over. When we got to the town we halted, and a cavalry force was sent ahead, 
but discovered no rebels this side of the Shenandoah river. We then retraced out- 
steps, and marched back about eight miles where we encamped for the night. 
Yesterday we marched about sixteen miles, halting for the night within six miles 
of Warrington, where our regiment did picket duty, starting again this morning 
about 5 o'clock. 

We supposed we were to have a rest at Warrington, and draw some shoes and 
clothing, which we were really suffering for. My feet had been so sore for 
several days as to give me great pain every time f stepped. Instead of resting, 
we passed through the town toward Culpepper It was hot and dusty, and we 
were so worn out that it seemed impossible to move any further. In this con- 
dition we were taking a short rest, and the bugle had just sounded for us to "fall 
in," when an order came for our regiment to proceed no further, as we were 
detached from our brigade and ordered to report to General Marston. It was 
said we were going to Point Lookout to guard prisoners ; and if ever news was 
gladly received by weary soldiers, this was by us. Yet we hardly dared to 

142 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

believe it true, but we were glad for a change of some or almost any kind that 
promised a little rest. 

We have already marched back here to Warrington this afternoon, and are 
now waiting for the train. 

From Wapping Heights to Front Royal the First Brigade took the 
lead, advancing part of the way in line of battle over hills, rocks, and 
through brooks, swamps, and ravines ; but finding nothing to fight, 
formed into column and marched back to Markham and encamped for 
the night. The next day it started again at 4 a. m., and marched through 
Piedmont and Salem to White Plains, where the Twelfth Regiment went 
on picket and was exposed to a severe shower during the night. 

Little did the rain-soaked and march-worn sentinels of that weary but 
watchful picket line think, as they stood as faithful but almost disheart- 
ened outposts on that wet and gloomy night, that they were so near the 
end of their long and wearisome marches, and that before another night 
should come they would be relieved from the tiring toils of war in the 
field, and preparing to leave the Army of the Potomac for a pleasant 
place of rest and safety in camp. 

Coming, as it did, all unexpected, the order for the Second, Fifth, and 
Twelfth New Hampshire regiments to be detached from the Third Corps 
and to report at Washington for guard duty, seemed too much like a 
dream or idle camp story to be credited : and not until the Second and 
the Twelfth found themselves on rail en rotite for the Capital, that con- 
gratulations were exchanged and the realization of the welcome truth 
begun to be felt. 

At noon of the 27th the Second and Twelfth regiments bade farewell to 
Meade's army, and took the train for Washington, followed by another 
train loaded with prisoners captured at Wapping Heights and Front 
Royal. The train stopped at Warrington Junction until 5 o'clock, and 
then proceeded to Alexandria, arriving there about sunset. Here another 
stop was made, and some of the sick sent in ambulances to general hos- 
pitals in the city They would have fain kept along with their old com- 
rades, but their condition was too low and feeble to go further, and "we 
said good-bye, to some of them, forever.'' 

Here also, as at Warrington before starting, the rebel prisoners were 
greeted and feasted by the citizens, from whom acts of kindness and 
words of love and sympathy, by men, women, and children who soon 
gathered around, evinced how strong and bitter was the feeling they still 
cherished against the Union and its organized power that had conquered 
their army at Gettysburg, and were now bringing back their fathers, 
brothers, and sons as prisoners of war. 

It was nearly midnight when the trains reached Washington. Here 
again there was a welcome greeting for the guarded Gray, but none for 
the conquering heroes in Blue, who had so long and faithfully guarded 

New Hampshire Volunteers. 143 

the National Capital itself, and who had, but two or three weeks before, 
saved it from capture on the field of Gettysburg. 

From the almost sumptuous supply of food and clothing that the prison- 
ers received from relatives and friends, and the complaint that some of 
them made, that it was hard to be held as prisoners of war in their own 
city, one would have supposed, without other means of knowing, that he 
was in Richmond instead of Washington. And this was by no means the 
only squad of rebel prisoners captured and sent North among which 
could be found former residents and natives of the city Eliminating the 
colored population, and at least three out of every five of the residents of 
Washington at the commencement of the war were outright Secessionists. 

If he who never marched in the ranks would learn a sad lesson of the 
frightful scourge of war, he can stud}' and fully understand it by the fol- 
lowing truthful illustration. 

But little more than nine months before, the Twelfth Regiment had left 
Washington with nearlv one thousand strong and hardy men, to bear its 
part of the burden of toil and danger that rested upon the Army of the 
Potomac. Now it returns with nearly a score less than one tenth of that 
number, sick and well, and breaks its ranks at the " Soldier's Rest" with 
only sixty-nine muskets in stack/ 

No wonder that Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, who had not seen the regi- 
ment before since he left it on the field of Chancellorsville, exclaimed, 
" My God ! Is this all that is left of the Twelfth New Hampshire?" and 
cried like a child ; or that Captain May, who left it at the same time and 
rejoined it here, when he saw the ragged and haggard condition of that 
pitiable remnant — some of them not able to be outside of the hospital 
and all without clothes or money — pulled out his pocket-book and said, 
" Here, boys, help yourselves," giving and loaning to the amount of sev- 
eral hundred dollars. With memory active to draw the contrast between 
then and now, it was a sad and sorrowful picture indeed. 

For forty-seven consecutive days the regiment had been in active cam- 
paign service, most of the time on the road or the battle-field, making 
many forced marches by night as well as by day ; and the condition of 
the men was one of actual destitution and suffering. A single glance 
could reveal enough, but could not all discover; for it required a much 
closer and more searching inspection to perceive the worst, that could 
only be realized by the sense of feeling, as well as of sight. The tired, 
haggard look ; the worn-out shoes, affording but little or no protection to 
their feet; and the dirty, ragged clothes, scarcely sufficient to cover 
their bodies and screen them from the burning rays of the sun, — all told 
the same story of hardship and suffering. 

But the toils and dangers of the march and the field were now over 
with them for awhile ; and the discomfort and misery of their bodily con- 
dition were also soon to end by an expurgation of water and fire, as will 
be referred to in the next chapter. 

144 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

But if the war-worn veterans of the Second and Twelfth regiments had 
much reason to rejoice, those of the Fifth had more ; for no sooner did 
the}' reach Washington than they were ordered to proceed to Concord, 
N. H., to rest and recruit, where they could all get a chance to visit their 
homes. They did not rejoin the brigade at Point Lookout until the 13th 
of November. 

The next day after their arrival an amusing incident occurred among 
the men of the two regiments which, though it ma}' not serve " to point 
a moral or adorn a tale," is nevertheless significantly illustrative of not 
only how little a thing can frighten the brave, but of how closely con- 
nected the lachrymose and ludicrous phases of our lives sometimes appear. 

The Second and Twelfth regiments were quartered in the same bar- 
racks and close together ; and some one in the latter regiment, in the still 
hour of the night when all was quiet, accidentally hit one of the guns 
that were stacked at their feet, causing three or four of the gunstocks to 
fall with a crashing noise upon the floor. Instantly both regiments were 
upon their feet and groping and grasping in the darkness for their guns, 
which some got hold of and were actually in the act of using them against 
each other, before they became sufficiently awakened to remember that 
they were in Washington city instead of on the vedette line in front of the 

And thus ended with these two regiments, as well as the Fifth, the 
memorable Gettysburg campaign. 


Point Lookout 

At 6 o'clock p m., on the 30th of July, 1863, the Second and Twelfth 
regiments, with about two hundred prisoners, embarked on board the 
steamer "John Brooks," at 7th street wharf in Washington, and were 
soon moving down the Potomac, bound for Point Lookout, Md., and 
arriving there about noon the next day 

This place had been selected by the Government for the location of a 
large prison encampment which Gen. Gilman Marston, through the influ- 
ence of Governor Berry and others, was now authorized to establish, and 
to take with him, for that purpose, the three New Hampshire regiments 
that had suffered the most in the field. 

To troops that had seen so much of the dark, rough side of a soldier's 
life, and had just been through the hardest campaign of the war, it was a 
military paradise, where they coulcf find and enjoy, in quiet safety, the 
rest and relaxation that their nerves and muscles so greatly needed, and 
which the mind did not fail to appreciate. 

Washed by the waves of the Chesapeake on one side, and separated 
from Virginia by the broad mouth of the Potomac on the other ; within a 
few hours' ride by sail or steam of Washington and Baltimore ; with a 
nice picnic cluster of pine trees on the extreme point to sweeten the air 
and shade the ground, and excellent facilities for boating, fishing, and 
bathing, it had long been a favorite resort for pleasure seekers and 
invalids from both cities. But never did it afford more heart-felt relief 
and gladness than to the war-worn veterans who now possessed it. 

Could the many loved comrades, left buried behind, have been there to 
enjoy it with them, their cups would have lacked only the sweet pleasure 
of home to have overflowed with joy and gladness. 

This peninsula point, being all surrounded by water except a narrow 
neck, easily guarded, on the north, and so favorably situated, near the 
theatre of war and the base of supplies, as to save long transportation 
of either the prisoners captured, or the rations to feed them on, it was, 
perhaps, considering security, convenience, and comfort, including the 
mild climate and healthy location, the best place for a large camp and 
general depot for prisoners of war that could have been selected. 

The first thing of importance after landing, and it was very important 
to health and comfort, was a general slaughter by fire and water of 
"gray backs." 

History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

Thousands were drowned in the Potomac into which the boys rushed 
at the first breaking of their ranks after landing, and a thousand times as 
many more were consumed in the big bon-fire of coats, pants, vests. 
shirts, socks, shoes, and caps that was kindled the next day when the 
quartermaster stores were distributed, and each man had the happy priv- 
ilege of receipting for a new suit of clothes to take the place of the dirty, 
ragged, vermin-infested ones that they now gladly committed to the 
flames. And if there were a few articles of clothing that escaped, be- 
cause thought too good to be thus destroyed, they were at once cleaned 
and purified by a grease-extracting and life-extinguishing souse and boil 
in soap-suds. 

Dressed cap-a-pie in cloth and leather new, with faces shaved and hair 
cut and combed, the boys looked as much better as they felt, and would 
hardly have been recognized as the same " Dirty Dozen,'' as someone 
called them, that arrived in Washington a few days before. 

There was to be no more skirmishing for *' gray backs" now, either of 
the two or six legged genus, and the entire relief from the hardship and 
danger of the one, and the annoyance and discomfort of the other, was 
better appreciated than words can well express. 

No sooner were the regimental camps laid out, and tents erected 
(which were no longer the dog-kennel shelters, but the much more com- 
modious and comfortable "A" tents) than work was commenced on the 
stockade around the prisoners' quarters. 

This consisted of pine logs split in the middle, and cut long enough to 
trench fast in the ground, and leave ten or twelve feet above as the height 
of the pen. On the outside of this stockade, near the top, was built a 
staging about four feet wide for the sentinels to walk on. 

To thus circummure a space of ground big enough to accommodate 
several thousand men was no small undertaking, and an invitation was 
given to the "Johnnies" to assist.* 

This at first they indignantly declined, not deeming it good military 
manners to be asked to help build their own prison ; but, getting tired of 
waiting, they at last concluded to bend their backs and bear a hand. 

In the meantime a detail of twenty men was made from the regiments 
to act as mounted scouts in the country above the Point, and watch for 
any contraband trade or suspicious acts of the inhabitants, most of whom 
were in active sympathy with the South. 

There was, however, but little fear of any rescuing force from that 
direction, as the narrow neck, above referred to, of only a few rods in 
width, was guarded by artillery and a block-house ; while the constant 
presence of gunboats in the Potomac made any like attempt from the 
Virginian shore equally hazardous. 

The camp was divided into company quarters, each occupied by one 
hundred men in charge of a sergeant. 

" The prison pen was afterward enlarged by a post and board fence. 

jYczc Hampshire Volunteers. 


Strict police and sanitary regulations were enforced, good food and 
pure water amply supplied, and nothing for the health and comfort of the 
prisoners was wanting. In fact, with good "A" or "Sibley" tents to 
shield them from the sun, and shelter them from the storm, and warm 
clothes in winter to take the place of their ragged " butternut and jeans," 
they were all much better provided for than when in their own army, 
and many of them better supplied than ever before in their lives. 

(As he looked upon his arrival at camp.) 

This treatment, so different from that of our own starving comrades in 
the prison pens of the South, and so much better than expected by the 
rebels themselves, soon made its impression, and had a favorable effect 
upon the recipients. Sectional prejudice and hatred, engendered or 
intensified by the war, soon softened into respect, and even friendship, 
and a great change came over the vision of their dreams. 

Not only were their hurts softened, but their minds were opened ; and 
being both convicted and convinced their conversion was radical and reli- 
able, as their future acts and conduct proved. They had, at last, by 
kind treatment and the new light given them by contact with their 
hitherto hated and despised Yankee foes, got their eyes open, and could 
now plainly see, what they never had or could before, that theirs was, as 
some of them called it, "the rich man's war and the poor man's fight." 

Many of these, willing to prove their faith by their works, took the 
oath of allegiance, and, exchanging the rebel gray for Union blue, 
enlisted into the Federal service where they served faithfully until their 
discharge. Two full regiments were thus raised, and being commanded 

148 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

by men commissioned from the ranks of the Second, Fifth, and Twelfth 
regiments, were sent to the western frontier to fight the Indians. 

They were known on the war records as the First and Second United 
States Volunteers, but were called by the boys, " Galvanized Yanks." 

A few of them enlisted into the ranks of the Second Regiment, as wil- 
ling then to fight for the stars and stripes as they had been to battle for 
the stars and bars, and it is testimony of record, that " braver and truer 
men than they proved themselves never fought beneath the old flag." 

Most of them, however, who took the oath of allegiance went into the 
northern states and found work wherever they could, not daring to return 
to their homes in the South, even if they had been allowed to do so. 

In taking the oath they were required to answer several questions, and 
the answers to these had to be sent to Washington and approved before 
applicants were given their liberty 

These questions would, of course, be answered favorably whether the 
applicant was acting in good or bad faith, so that this particular care and 
formality was all absurdly useless. 

The actions of these men, who were healthy and comfortable, were in 
marked contrast to those of our own army in rebel prisons, who, though 
suffering every discomfort and misery, many of them actually starving, 
chose to thus suffer and die rather than by any act or word to show them- 
selves disloyal to their country and its flag. 

But while thousands were thus happily disposed of, three times as 
many more remained under guard. Squads and companies of from fifty 
to five hundred were coming in every week or two to take the place of 
those going out, leaving an average in camp of about five thousand ; 
although at times, toward spring, there were more than double that num- 
ber to be watched and cared for 

With this large number together, it is not surprising that, however 
good their rations or kind their treatment, there should be many discon- 
tented ones, and some who were willing to take the risk of an attempt to 
escape rather than remain longer in confinement. 

These few had only to plan and lead, and the rest of course would 
follow ; and hence the greatest vigilance was required to detect any indi- 
cations of this kind, for five or six thousand men, who had learned to 
scorn and defy death in the ranks of Longstreet and Jackson, against as 
many hundred, though armed, taken by surprise, would have had more 
than even chances of exchanging the fortunes of war, and making pris- 
oners of those who were guarding them. This once accomplished, their 
final escape into " Dixie," with the whole of Southern Maryland ready 
to assist them, would have been the easiest part of the undertaking. 

Hence the great danger, especially before the arrival of the Fifth 
Regiment, was from a sortie from within, instead of an attack from with- 
out. That such an attempt was at one time seriously considered, and 
really intended, there is but little doubt. 

~Yczi' Hampshire Volunteers. 149 

Strong suspicions, founded on several minor but significant observa- 
tions, at last ripened into evidence too positive and direct to be unheeded. 

The two guarding regiments — Second and Twelfth — were ordered 
under arms, with muskets loaded, and two pieces of artillery, double- 
shotted with canister, were placed so as to sweep the gateway, while the 
prisoners were all marched out of their quarters, a company at a time, 
and a thorough search was made of every tent and the whole prison 

Several muskets were found, but how they got there was a mystery ; 
and quite a number of their bunks, when uncovered, were found to be 
boats roughly constructed from pieces of hard-tack boxes and boards with 
the cracks tightened with grease and soap, and holes cut through the 
sides near the top for the oars which were also found all ready for use. 
It was further discovered that they had dug a tunnel nearly to the outside 
of the stockade. This was easily done without attracting particular 
attention, as they, for some time, had been allowed to make sun-burnt 
brick from the clay found in their enclosure, to use themselves or to sell 
to the officers to build chimneys with to their winter quarters. 

The prisoners had been doing quite a business in this line, but after the 
discovery of the tunnel, no more brick-making was permitted in the rebel 
camp. This source of revenue being cut off, more attention was given 
by them to the manufacturing of rings, fans, pipes, chains, charms, etc., 
which they readily exchanged with their blue-clad guardians for " green- 
backs" or government scrip. 

In this kind of work they evinced, many of them, considerable skill 
and ingenuity One of them manufactured a clock that would keep very 
good time, and another constructed a miniature steam engine which would 
run, and, considering the material and tools he was obliged to use, was 
quite a curiosity 

Beside the evidently concerted plans and efforts to escape, just referred 
to, there were many other attempts made by two, three, or more, at a 
time. These attempts — nearly always unsuccessful — were usually made 
by dropping out and hiding away while outside of the stockade for wood, 
water, or bathing, and, if not found before dark, taking their chances of 
escaping during the night into Maryland. At one time an attempt was 
made to bribe the guard, which being reported, the soldier was instructed 
the next time he went on guard to inform those who had tried to bribe 
him that he would let them out if they would double the amount offered. 
This they agreed to do if he would allow double the number to pass out. 

The bargain being at last made, before the next relief came round, 
ten of the liberty-seeking "Johnnies" were outside of their pine-log sur- 
rounding ; but, before they knew it, found themselves inside of a circling 
line of mounted patrolmen, who, with loaded carbines, commanded them 
to halt. Two weeks in the guard-house on half-rations was their reward. 

At another time two or three who had dropped out from a squad, that 

150 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

was out for some purpose, were allowed to remain, as if unnoticed, until 
late in the night, when, thinking it safe to make another move toward 
their final escape, they crawl out of their hiding places in the bushes, 
stand erect for a moment or two and listen, and then, with low-bent 
bodies, and cat-like steps, move silently forward, but only for a few 
steps, before the "zip" of bullets over and around their heads causes 
them to fall to the ground and beg for their lives. One of these was shot 
by an officer in the Second Regiment, after he had cried for quarter, 
It was a mean and cowardly act. 

A few experiences like these, and one or two others related in the 
chapter of anecdotes, had a tendency to convince the discontented ones 
that it was useless for any of them to attempt an escape from Point 
Lookout, which though a good place to stay at, was a very bad place to 
start from. 

To show the deplorable condition of the poor whites of the South, 
under the slave-holders' regime, it may be properly referred to here, that 
not more than one third of the prisoners could write their own names. 
It was only by this wide-spread ignorance through the slave states (for 
this class included nearly the whole white population, except the slave- 
owners and their families) that the Rebellion was made possible. And 
hence it is plainly seen how necessary to the welfare and safety of free 
people is the general diffusion of knowledge. 

Religious services were held every Sabbath in the prisoners' camp, the 
chaplains of the different regiments taking turns in conducting them, and 
fervent interest was frequently manifested, especially among the soldiers 
from General Jackson's command, who had imbibed somewhat of the 
Christian zeal of their great leader 

They said they used to have great revivals in their corps when Jackson 
was alive and mingled with them. No wonder that his soldiers followed 
him until they fell dead in their tracks, as they were said to, on their 
forced marches around our right flank at Chancellorsville, or that they 
fought with such desperation in that battle to avenge his death ; for re- 
ligious zeal, as the history of the world shews, is one of the strongest 
motive powers of the human heart. It was this that made the armies of 
Constantine and Cromwell invincible, and caused the vain sacrifice of 
millions during the Crusades. 

But Christian interest and efforts were not found in the prison camp 
alone. By the efforts of Chaplain Ambrose and others, money was raised 
by subscription, and quite a commodious chapel was erected, where, in 
bad as well as good weather, religious services could be held. Betore 
this, when pleasant, meetings had been held in a small grove of pines 
near the camp of the Twelfth. 

The new chapel was dedicated Sunday, December 27th, a minister from 
New York preaching a very interesting sermon from Matthew, twenty-first 
chapter and twenty-second verse. On the second Sabbath in January the 

S\'c-w Hampshire Volunteers. 151 

chaplain delivered one of his ablest discourses upon the words: "For 
every house is builded bv some man, but he that built all things is God," 
and brought out, among others, the beautifully illustrative idea, that the 
lowest and hidden stones are those of the foundation, and therefore near- 
est " The Chief Corner Stone." 

Quite a church of humble and devoted worshipers in the Christian 
faith was organized from the Twelfth and the other two regiments, which, 
without schism or discussion, excepting upon one question, grew up and 

The question alluded to was upon the propriety of excommunicating 
the venerable Sergeant Osgood, of Company C, who, it was discovered, 
was a believer in universal salvation. 

This was deemed to be too dangerous a doctrine to be tolerated, much 
less to be openlv communed with, and so without any other charge 
against him he was voted out. 

It was not until the 13th of November that the Fifth Regiment arrived 
from Concord, N H., where, as already noticed, it had been for three 
months on recruiting service. It had partially filled up its own ranks out 
of the bounty-jumping class of recruits, and brought along with them 
nearly three hundred more of the same kind for the Second and Twelfth 

This was the beginning of grief, as will be seen, for all the old mem- 
bers of the brigade, although the veterans of the Fifth had learned 
enough about their new associates, before leaving Concord, to quite 
correctly estimate their value as soldiers. 

But to the others it was an unexpected opening in camp of the fabled jar 
of Epimetheus, from which came nothing good but hope, and the hope, as 
expressed by one, was that these new recruits might all desert to the 
enemy, as the quickest and most effectual way of putting down the 

Most of these recruits were called " subs." This nick-name was ap- 
plied to that class of the genus homo known on the army enrollments, 
under the draft act, as "substitutes"; and considered, either as a con- 
traction of that word, or as a prenomen in the original language from 
which it is derived, was well chosen and peculiarly applicable. 

The word sub, as is well known, is a Latin preposition and means, in the 
English language, under or below ; but how far in that direction it is pos- 
sible for the human race to go on this mundane sphere before the final 
drop into the fathomless depths of perdition, no one can have any adequate 
conception who never had anything to do with those strange specimens of 
abnormal humanity that were sent out in the fall and winter of 1863-4 to 
fill up the skeleton ranks of the old regiments. 

Congress had made a law, authorizing a draft to fill up the quotas of 
the different States, by virtue of which every man, with few exceptions, 
whose name was drawn, and was physically able, had to " play or pay," 

152 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

as the phrase went, — go to the front and play ball with the "Johnnies," 
or pay the sum of three hundred dollars, and stay at home with his neigh- 

This law, however necessary a draft of some kind, was both unwise and 
unjust. It was unwise, because the Government wanted men more than 
money, but got, of course, just the reverse ; and it was unjust, because it 
wrongfully discriminated in favor of the rich as against the poor, allowing 
him, who could best go, to stay, and obliging him, who had most need to 
stay and provide for his family, to go. Failing to get the men, the law 
was amended by striking out the commutation clause, and requiring men 
instead of money ; so that he, who should be drafted, must either go or 
send — stand up and face the music himself, or hire someone to do it for 
him. Hence the name substitute will be found to have had a military as 
well as a literary signification; for although the man of money had to 
stand the draft, it was his poor neighbor who had to "stand the racket." 

Although the draft act, as amended, had the effect of putting more 
names upon the muster-rolls it compelled the poor man to do the fighting. 
And, since nothing can prove practically right that is morally wrong, it 
will soon be seen that the last law was quite as impolitic as the first ; and 
that while names may swell the list, the character of the persons to whom 
they apply has no little to do with the final result. 

Almost immediately a brisk business of hunting up substitutes was 
started, the demand, at first, being far ahead of the supply, making prices 
high ; and soon there were found in every city, and many of the towns, 
one or more of those self-styled patriots who are always willing to serve 
their country when there is more money than danger in the business, and 
who were known as " substitute brokers." This business, as it was con- 
ducted, was much more lucrative than honorable. 

It started even before the draft was enforced by getting men to enlist in 
towns that had voted enormous bounties for volunteers, although they 
might have never heard of the town before, the broker getting his subject 
for two or three hundred dollars — sometimes much less — and pocketing 
eight or ten hundred dollars for his part of the transaction. 

After the draft act they became more expert in their profession than 
ever, often getting from three to five hundred dollars in exchange for the 
price of a few glasses of whiskey, and a few dollars for car fare and safe 
custody of their victim, until they could get him into the safe keeping of 
the recruiting-camp guards. 

These brokers ransacked the dens of infamy and crime in the larger 
cities of the North to find those, no matter how mean or degraded, who 
could be induced for money to enlist for three years, or during the time 
necessary to find a good chance to desert. 

Many were procured by consent of state authority, the convicted crim- 
inal choosing to enlist and fight awhile for ihe nation at sixteen dollars 
per month, rather than work for the State a few years for nothing. 


JCezv Hampshire Volunteers. 153 

When the latter class could not be found, and the former were too high 
priced to leave a good margin on the profit side of the brokers' ledgers, 
resort was had to getting their victims drunk or drugging them ; and by 
these means thousands were forced into the service. Man}- of this class 
were sailors, and some of them, aside from their habit of too often " doub- 
ling the horn," being neither vile nor vicious by nature, like those with 
whom they were thus unconsciously united, made verv good soldiers. 

But taking the substitutes together, it can be truthfully said, that such 
another depraved vice-hardened and desperate set of human beings never 
before disgraced an army To send such vile rubbish to take the place 
of the fallen brave, and fill up the ranks of the veteran heroes who still 
remained, was an insult to them, and a desecration to the memory of their 
late comrades. It was what neither the cause nor the occasion either 
justified or demanded. 

They represented the lowest class of almost every nationality, though 
some of the worst were of good birth and education, and, lacking neither 
courage nor wit, were naturallv the instigators and leaders of every scheme 
and effort to evade duty or desert the service. Some of their plans to 
effect the latter and main purpose, to grab the bounty and jump the serv- 
ice — as many had repeatedly done before, and hence called "Bounty 
Jumpers" — in shrewdness of conception and boldness of execution were 
worthy of a better motive, and had well been imitated, on a larger scale, 
in the strategy and tactics of more than one of our commanding generals. 

Two or three, here given as illustrations, all happened in one car, loaded 
with " subs," and en route for the front, in charge of an officer who had 
stationed a guard at either door. 

Although a free ride, it was in the wrong direction to be enjoyable ; 
and some had taken the precaution to take with them a thinner suit, of any 
color but blue, to put on whenever the climate got too hot for them. 

One of these fellows, with citizen's pants under his others, improved 
the first chance to change and exchange as follows : Noticing that the 
officer had become so much annoyed by persistent efforts of the news- 
boys to get into the car at a certain city that he threatened to kick from 
the platform the next one that came on, one of the " subs " saw with a 
quick eye of perception that his time had come. Reaching out of the 
window, he bought the whole stock in trade of the first news-paper boy 
that came along. Then quickly pulling oft" his outside pants and turning 
his coat and cap inside out, with a bundle of papers under his arm and one 
half spread out in his hand, he started for the door crying out, "Times, 
Herald, Tribune," and running purposely against the officer who, thinking 
he had got into the car at the other end, and being thus rudely jostled, 
actually grabbed him by the shoulders and with a shove and a kick gave 
Mr. " Sub " a very acceptable send off", while a roar of laughter arose 
from his comrades inside which the officer did not just then fully appre- 

154 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

Another took off his coat and hat, rolled up his sleeves, and stepping 
into the middle of the car, while the guard was not looking, and when it 
was getting about dark enough to light up, he climbed upon the seats 
and, taking a lamp in each hand, walked boldly out past the guard into 
the streets of the city 

A third one went up to the guard at the door, and said he wanted to 
see the lieutenant ; and while the officer comes in on one side, he, with a 
quick push and a spring, goes out on the other into the darkness of 
night, while the sword and the gun, thus so quickly discomfited, were 
left to discuss their individual stupidity and relative responsibility 
Again, as the cars were starting, a "sub" entered the saloon at the 
end of the car where immediately a window was heard to crash, and 
while the guard jumped for the coat tail going out of the window, 
two or three more coat tails went out of the door. And thus from one 
closely-guarded car, half a dozen or more of these recruits escaped on 
their way to the front. It is safe to say that of this class of recruits as- 
signed to New Hampshire regiments, not less than thirty per cent deserted 
before joining their respective commands, and one half as many more 
before the close of the war. 

According to the Adjutant-General's reports over thirty per cent of all 
the recruits, including volunteers and drafted men, were deserters, most 
of whom were substitutes, who did not constitute much more than one 
half of the whole number of recruits. From this it will be seen that the 
above estimate of forty-five per cent of this class being deserters, is prob- 
ably much below the correct figures. Fortunately, or rather unfortu- 
nately — for they were not worth the trouble of keeping — Point Lookout, 
with the narrow neck of land, double guarded, was not a good location 
for bounty-jumping. Yet quite a number tried it, and while some cleared 
the line, others, not so smart, fell short. 

One day a coffin was made by one of the carpenters in which to bury, 
as he supposed, a comrade who had just died in the hospital. At the 
next morning's roll-call one of the new recruits was not present, nor could 
he be accounted for, until it was discovered that the coffin, which had 
been left outside over night, had also disappeared. To use a coffin as a 
boat was a novel idea, and although not exactly according to the original 
design, answerd the new purpose well enough to flank the guard and 
land its living occupant safely across the inlet that helped hem him in. 

At another time three from the Twelfth had by some means evaded the 
guard, got up into Maryland, and well started, as they thought, for the 
North ; but they were apprehended by the mounted patrol, and started 
on the back track. One of them, not relishing so sudden and unexpected 
a "right about face," took vengeance on his captors with his tongue, 
using the most insulting and abusive language. Being repeatedly warned, 
without effect, he was brought back to camp very silent and submissive, 
and buried the next day His name was John Lee, and he was shot by 
Peter Gravlin of the Second Regiment. 

SVczu Hampshire Volunteers. 155 

The old soldiers of the brigade were not, at this time, in a very good- 
natured mood toward their semi-barbarous allies ; nor was there any rea- 
son why they should have been. Before their advent, common toil, 
hardship, and danger, for months and years, had made them a band of 
brothers. Between the officers and men there existed the most perfect 
confidence and friendship. Punishment was uncalled for, as disobedi- 
ence, demanding it, was unknown ; and camp guard had long been a 
thing of the past. The men went and came almost at their pleasure, 
subject of course to such restrictions of time and place as their duty re- 
quired ; and the roll-call was more a matter of form than necessity, for if 
one was absent it was understood that he would be on hand when needed. 

The all-perverting "sub" came and everything was changed. No 
pleasure or privilege for the boys in camp any more, for the hard lines 
and severe discipline of military necessity apply with a rigidness never 
before required. 

The little boats — mostly " dug-outs" — that had lined the shores, and 
in which thev used to row, sail, fish, and gather oysters at their leisure 
are all "contraband" now And the short pleasure trips up into the 
country, even to the little villages of St. Mary's and "The Pines" to 
have a home-reminding chat with the girls, and get a wee sip of " apple 
jack" as an appetizer, are no longer had, except at long intervals, for 
they now have the double duty to perform, of guarding the "subs" as 
well as the " rebs." But to keep them from running away was by no 
means the worst part of the job that these new comers furnished. To 
make them obey orders and perform duty, neither the patience of Job 
nor the wisdom of Solomon could avail without severe discipline, and 
even then some of the obdurate and case-hardened proved more than a 
match for their company commanders. Punishment, however severe, 
was utterly futile, either to reform the offender or as an example to his 

The writer remembers one fellow that stood on tip-toe, tied up by his 
thumbs, until so near death as to be past all suffering, rather than consent 
to return a watch that he had stolen, or even tell what he had done with 
it; and although suffering the most excruciating pain of reaction, after 
being cut down, he was ready to repeat it and die rather than give or 
own up by a single act or word. 

Though these attempts to compel obedience by punitive measures were 
generally as useless as they were common — the recipients taking them 
like their rations, as part of the regular bill of fare — yet it was deemed 
necessary, in order to keep up a show of discipline ; and the ingenuity of 
the officers was heavily taxed to find ways and means of punishment 
commensurate with the multifold and daily increasing offenses. 

Some days one might see two or three of them sitting astride the ridge- 
pole of an officer's quarters with a weight attached to each foot, so they 
could keep their balance and not be blown off, while they were permitted 
to enjoy, to their heart's content, a cool, refreshing breeze from the bay- 

156 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

At the same time, perhaps, could be seen as many more marching up 
and down the company street or regimental parade ground, in heavy 
marching order — their knapsacks filled up with rocks. 

Now and then there would be a squad drill of the offenders in slow 
time : so slow in fact that there would be but one beat to the measure, and 
that a " dead beat," and the measure being a barrel with both of its 
heads knocked out, and a " dead-head" put in, and having written upon 
it the crime or offense that its hooped-up incumbent had committed. 

These were but a few of the many ways devised to punish for minor 
offenses ; but the " buck and gag," tying up by the thumbs, and standing, 
heavy weighted, on the chimes of a barrel, were among the more severe 
methods of compelling obedience. Sometimes the nature of the offense 
would suggest its own correction ; as when one day Captain Bedee dis- 
covered that some of the "subs" of Company G had turned boat-makers, 
two boats already completed being found in their tents and used as bunks 
to secrete them until a favorable opportunity to test their capacity by a 
trial trip across the Potomac. Determined, after so much patient care 
and toil, that they should not miss their ride, as they had their calcula- 
tions, he compelled four to carry a boat, two at each end, while two more 
rode in it, dextrously plying the oars as if pulling for their lives on the 
water, as they probably would have done a few nights later. Then he 
would reverse the order, letting two of the carriers ride and row awhile, 
and the riders take their places, thus making them lug or tug, until, like 
the frogs in the fable, what was fun for the boys was death to them. 

But however much they were found wanting in almost every element 
of honor or manliness, with one thing they were well supplied, and that 
was "greenbacks." 

With no relatives that they cared for, and no friends they dared trust, 
they took their bounty money along with them, and, judging others by 
themselves, dared not carry it in their pockets, but concealed it about 
their persons in every way conceivable. Some kept it in their stockings, 
others in the lining of their boot-legs, and a few sewed it up in their neck- 
ties ; but the most of them carried the larger part of their greenbacks in 
a waist belt that they wore next to their bodies. Despite all these pre- 
cautions many had their money, as well as their watches, stolen by their 
brother comrades. But while stealing from each other was common, 
gambling was their pastime. A single instance will illustrate both. 

A poor simple-minded German, who had been drugged or lied into the 
service, had three hundred dollars stolen from him one night, and sus- 
picion rested upon a " sub" in the same company by the name of Curley 
who was one of the meanest and toughest specimens of his class. He 
was arrested and a drumhead court martial instituted by the company 
commander to try him. In the course of the investigation, although no 
adequate proof of his stealing the money was educed, it was ascertained 
that he had gambled" his comrades out of several thousand dollars that he 

+Yczc> Hampshire Vohintcers. 157 

had sent in separate packages to different banks in the North, not daring 
to keep it with him. 

From what has already been written it will be easy for the reader to 
believe that there were many desperate and dangerous criminals among 
them who would not hesitate to commit any crime that passion, avarice, 
or revenge might incite them to. 

The same Curley, just mentioned, made a cowardly attack upon Cap- 
tain Barker on the night of the landing of Butler's troops at City Point, 
and might have seriously injured or killed him, but for the quick interfer- 
ence of one of the lieutenants who discovered his purpose before he could 
effect it. 

Another one stabbed Lieutenant Gale of Company B, the arm that 
received the knife thrust, saving the body that was aimed at from a dan- 
gerous wound. The next moment the assaulting "sub" was subverted 
and subdued by a stunning blow from the fist of the great and strong 
Sergeant Piper of the same company Several felonious assaults were 
also made upon members of the Second and Fifth regiments. 

November 2 2d a detachment of two officers and forty men from the 
Twelfth, accompanied bv a gunboat went up the Potomac to St. George's 
Island to capture some Confederates said to be encamped there, and 
returned the next day with about thirty rebel deserters and blockade run- 
ners. The day following the return of this party, there were several 
colored refugees and escaped Federal prisoners arrived in camp from 
Richmond. The refugees and prisoners had helped each other in their 
flight ; but the latter were under the greater obligation, as they would 
never have gotten away but for the assistance of the former. 

One day more, the 26th, and the three regiments were all enjoying a 
good Thanksgiving dinner: for parents, wives, and children in New 
Hampshire had not forgotten those of their own blood and kin in the 
army who could now be quickly reached by express transportation. 

As they partook of the stuffed chickens and other good things from 
home, they could not help thinking of the many thousands in the army 
less privileged than themselves ; and memory helped draw the contrast 
between this and their last Thanksgiving at Falmouth. 

Every few days a fresh supply of " subs" or " rebs " would arrive in 
camp, but the latter were by far the more welcome. 

December 23d, as a climax of several preceding days of severely cold 
weather, came the first snow for the season, followed that night by Gen- 
eral Butler and staff, who, after inspecting the encampments, departed 
with the snow the next day, taking with him six hundred rebel prisoners 
for exchange. 

On Christmas day there was much sport among the boys of the regi- 
ments, a regular programme of amusements being very pleasantly carried 
out at the encampments of the Second and Fifth, in which the Twelfth 
participated. Among other things to make sport, were the greased pig 

158 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

and pole, wheelbarrow and sack races, and wrestling ; Walter Libbey 
of the Twelfth winning the belt as champion wrestler. 

On the 1 2th day of January, 1864, a force of about three hundred 
infantry, half as many cavalry, and a section of a Rhode Island battery 
left the Point at 5.30 a. m., under convoy of two gunboats, for a raid 
into Virginia. This force was made up from the three regiments ; the 
detail from the Twelfth consisting of Captains May and Bedee, Lieuten- 
ants Smith and Sanborn, six sergeants, eight corporals, and one hundred 

The object of this expedition, which was led by General Marston him- 
self, was to capture a small force of rebels that were stationed, as under- 
stood, near the Rappahannock river, and to do such other damage to the 
material supplies of the enemy as might be found practicable. Although 
the rebel encampment did not in any way contribute to the success of the 
Yankee enterprise, its occupants concluding to run rather than fight, vet 
the raid was not entirely a vain effort, saltworks and tanneries being 
destroyed, and several rebel soldiers, among whom were a major and 
captain, who were at home on furloughs, were captured. 

Nor was this all that was captured, for when the command returned on 
the afternoon of the 15th, the quartermaster's and commissary's stores were 
increased by a fresh supply of horses, mules, and cattle, to the number of 
fifty or more, that had not been raised on the Maryland side of the Potomac ; 
while the company cooks were amply supplied for a few days with fresh 
meat of various kinds, besides beef, to cook for a rich change of rations 
for the men. In fact, the whole thing proved to be but little more than 
an organized foraging expedition, which the officers and men enjoyed so 
much that they all, who still survive, relish the memory of it even to this 

Though the infantry marched thirty-five or forty miles from the river 
and back again in less than three days they were but little fatigued, for 
every man, for much of the way, was mounted — some on horses, some 
on mules, some on jacks and jennies, and some on the seats of sundry 
kinds of two and four wheeled vehicles, drawn by anything of loco- 
motive power, no matter whether it was a brindle steer or a jackass. 

This was not quite General Marston's way of conducting a campaign ; 
but he, as presiding officer, had but little power to shape the action of the 
committee on ways and means, especially when that committee was self- 
constituted, and comprised his whole command. 

In number the gain and loss of this movement was about the same, one 
man being accidently killed, and ten or twelve of the "substitutes" de- 
serting ; but in rank and worth the exchange was all, excepting the man 
killed, to the advantage of the raiders ; for one rebel soldier was a greater 
loss to his army than a dozen deserting recruits was to ours, to say noth- 
ing about the rebel major and captain. 

JVezu Hampshire Volunteers. 159 

On the 23d of February the Thirty-sixth Regiment of United States 
Colored Troops arrived to take the place of four or five hundred men of 
the brigade who were furloughed to go home and vote at the state elec- 
tion on the second Tuesday in March. 

The next day the home-bound veterans left the Point about noon on 
board the steamship " Admiral Dupont," an English built vessel, intended 
and used — until captured by our navy — for a blockade-runner, and 
finally lost at sea in the summer of 1865. It was indeed an ill-fated 
steamer from its launch into the water to its last plunge beneath the 

The first look at its black hull, as it lay off the Point that morning, 
was enough to raise apprehensions of danger in the minds of some who 
were about to embark upon her for the longest sea voyage of their lives ; 
and, before two o'clock at night, they found themselves struggling for 
life in the dark, cold water of the ocean. 

While in or near Hampton Roads, whither it proceeded before steering 
direct for Boston, it run into or against a sailing craft of some kind, the 
bowsprit or iib-boom of which raked its hurricane deck, tore off one of 
the wheelhouses, and swept several of its boats, in which a number of 
the soldiers were lying, into the water. The tearing, crashing noise 
heard by those below, who had just sought their berths for a night's rest, 
was startling in the extreme, and caused for a few moments quite a panic. 
It seemed to them as if the great steamer was being crushed and shivered 
from stem to stern. 

Some, who were asleep in the small boats, swinging upon the davits, 
when the vessels collided, were thrown with sudden violence into the 
water before they knew where they were or what had happened. By the 
prompt action of the two boat crews all except two were rescued from the 
imminent peril of a watery grave. That more of the many on top of the 
steamer were not either killed or drowned was certainly not less strange 
than fortunate. 

All were glad when, after a rough and sea-sick voyage up the coast 
and around Cape Cod — with one night's delay at Holmes's Hole on ac- 
count of the weather — they found themselves at last safely anchored in 
Boston harbor. Though glad indeed to escape the perils of the sea, and 
to be where they could breathe fresh air once more, they were still more 
so at the brightening prospect of soon being in the arms of mothers, sis- 
ters, and other loved ones who impatiently awaited them on the hills of 
old New Hampshire. 

But we will here leave the lucky soldier boys to enjoy their few days' 
furlough amid their relatives and friends at home, and return to Point 
Lookout to find many of their comrades in quite a different humor for 
being left behind, because, as they claimed — not perhaps without some 
foundation — they were suspected of not being of the same political 
complexion as most of those who went. But New Hampshire then was 

160 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

the first to speak in the Presidential contest, and her utterance from the 
ballot-box was taken as the keynote of the campaign. 

As she spoke on the 8th of March that year the loyal States responded, 
and more than ever before or since in the history of our country the voice 
of the people was the voice of God. 

The weather was very mild and pleasant most of the time during the 
winter, but there were several severe storms, some of which swept across 
the Point with such violence as to blow over many of the tents of officers 
as well as men, and flood them all that were located on lower ground near 
the river, as were many of those of the Second and Twelfth regiments. 

To be thus suddenly uncovered to a deluge of rain by a tent-snatching 
gust of a hurricane gale in the middle of the night, and before one could 
have time to get out of his bed and into his clothes, was a more expeditious 
than pleasing way of using hydropathic means to arouse the soldier from 
a sound sleep, and prepare him for immediate action. It was, moreover, 
such a cold-water douse as seemed not especially conducive to either 
comfort or health, and one not likely to be recommended by the most 
pronounced and zealous advocate of the water-cure system who had once 
tried it himself. But after all it was but one of the many unpleasant 
incidents that are not uncommon to every soldier's experience, and 
created more amusement than sorrow But such were terrible nights for 
the storm-beat sentinels upon their elevated walk around the prison camp, 
exposed to the full and unobstructed sweep of the pitiless blasts of the 
raging tempest. There was no retreat or cover for them from the furious 
elements, for greater instead of less vigilance was demanded when the 
storm king ruled the night. 

This location seemed to be the very play-ground of the winds, chasing 
to and fro between the river and the bay ; and when they gathered on the 
broad expanse of the Chesapeake for a grand race across the Point and 
Potomac, on their course westward, there seemed to be more fury than 
fun in the contest. Remindful of this is the following found in the 
author's diary under date of December 15th : 

"Very windy; the tents shake and flutter as if in a passion of mad- 

On the afternoon and night of the 22a of March occurred the first and 
last snow storm, of any account, for the whole winter; but it was severe 
enough to make up for the past, and remind the men of some of the vernal 
equinoxtials in New England. 

The wind, as usual, was present for duty and took an active part in the 
work of distribution, forcing the snow into the tents, and piling it up 
against them on the outside. 

The snow remained upon the ground on the afternoon of the 24th in 
sufficient quantity to furnish an ample supply of ammunition for the great 
snow-ball battle between the Second and Twelfth regiments. 

Of this famous engagement "Private" Haynes in his history of the 
Second says : 

JYezv Hampshire Volunteers. 161 

" The battle was contested upon either side with as much valor and stub- 
bornness as was ever displayed where more deadly weapons were used, 
and quite a respectable list of wounded was rolled up. Black eyes were 
plenty in both regiments for some days,, and the surgeons state that there 
was also an unusual demand for sticking plaster " 

But he does not tell upon whose standard perched the victorious eagle, 
nor even intimate which army held or claimed the field. 

A more extended and complete account of the fight will be given in 
another chapter. 

As connected with and explaining the visit of General Butler, pre- 
viously referred to, the following from his own pen * will be found 
interesting : 

In December, 1863, I made two personal inspections at Point Lookout of the 
condition of the rebel prisoners of war. I went into their camp, which covered 
some acres and was well laid out. There were tents to accommodate all of them, 
placed upon a perfectly proper camping ground laid out in streets. At the 
corneis many of the prisoners gathered around me, and I asked them to state to 
me any complaints thev had to make as to their clothing, food, or anything 
else. Thev all said thev had no complaints to make, except that, as the weather 
was cold, thev wanted more firewood than our armv regulations allowed. 

I then subjected several of them to a personal inspection, with their leave, 
examining even the condition of their gums; because, in looking over their 
rations, I had come to the conclusion that it was possible that not sufficient fresh 
vegetables had been given them, and that I might find, as I did, slight indica- 
tions of the scurvy bv the conditions of their gums, their complaint of the 
stirlness of their joints, and from the fact of their growing too fat from being 
without exercise. 

I said to them : " Upon vour pledge that you will take no improper advantage 
of the concession, I will permit vou to furnish yourselves with as much firewood 
as you choose to burn, the fire to be raked out after taps. I will direct that a 
number, not exceeding one hundred of vou, whom vour officers will detail — for 
I suppose you have some organization — may go out and cut from a neighboring 
forest, which belongs to a secession friend of yours, as much wood as you like ; 
and four mule teams with a wagon to haul it in will be furnished. And this may 
be done every pleasant day. But this must be upon a solemn pledge that none 
of you will attempt to escape when allowed beyond the camp fence for this 
purpose. If any man forgets this pledge it will result unfavorably to you, 
because I shall direct that no more shall be allowed to go out, and you will be 
left with only the regulation amount of wood for vour use. " 

This they all agreed to with great alacrity, and they treated me with the utmost 
respect and grateful kindness. General Marston was in command of their 
camp ; but I did not take him with me, because I wanted them to feel at liberty 
to make any complaints without his knowing who it was that complained. 

On returning to the office, I detailed my visit to General Marston, expressed my 
thanks to him for the fine condition of his command, and suggested to him that 
I thought he ought to make fresh vegetables a part of his rations, that it did 

* " Butler's Bonk," pag-os C12-C11. 

162 History of the Tivelfth Regiment 

not appear that any increase in the amount of food was necessary, but rather a 

He replied that he had no authority to issue such rations. I answeied that he 
might do so, and I would see that the proper measures were taken to have his 
account allowed. I then said to him : '• I have some knowledge, derived from 
my knowledge concerning sailors, especially whalemen, of the necessity for some 
prevention for the scurvv, and therefore vou had better send north for a schooner 
load of onions for their rations, and they had better be served raw, cider vinegar 
to be served with them; I know of* no better anti-scorbutic than these, save, per- 
haps, lemon juice, which would be too expensive. I also informed him that he 
might draw upon my provost fund for the expenses. \o better hearted man 
lived than Marston, and he joyfully undertook to carry out the orders. 

From that hour I never had a complaint of the treatment of prisoners at Point 
Lookout, although many hundreds passed through Fortress Monroe on their wax 
to be exchanged, and I sometimes saw them on the flag of truce boat. 

I heard of but two disturbances in the camp. [He did not hear of all then.] 
One was when, unfortunately, one man did not return with the chopping party 
There was great excitement, and some inspection of the guards, until the reason 
of his absence was ascertained. The poor fellow had lost his way He came 
into camp a couple of hours later, and was joyfully hailed by his comrades. 
The other was when it became necessary to change the regiment guarding them 
for one of colored troops. A number of ill-advised men made public declara- 
tions that thev would not be guarded by negroes, and one night, when thev 
should have retired at taps, a noisy demonstration was made. That was offi- 
cially stopped in the most effective manner 

I had twenty-five hundred Confederate officers, more or less. [One half less 
would be much nearer the correct number.] They occupied the buildings 
erected for hospitals, as we had very few r sick prisoners, and very large provis- 
ions had been made for hospital purposes. I never received any complaint from 
them. Many of them, I trust, are alive and well. With them there was never 
any disturbance but this once. 

The colored sergeant in charge directed an officer to retire to his quarters after 
taps, according to the regulations, and that respectful order was greeted with 

"Get out, you d d nigger, why do vou speak to a gentleman?" and the 

fficer jumped upon the sergeant, who at once used his revolver very effectively 
That being reported to me, I ordered an investigation by a commission com- 
posed of five officers, two of them were prisoners; and upon their unanimous 
report I sustained the sergeant, and ordered any other to shoot under like circum- 

The parenthetical phrases in the above quotation are, of course, the 
author's ; and two or three more might have been interpolated to give the 
reader a still more correct statement of the condition of things therein 
referred to. 

Concerning, however, the acts and feelings, born of deep and bitter 
prejudice, of the southern soldier or citizen against the negro's occupying 
any other position than that of a slave, much more might be truthfully 
written. The bare idea of having them made their equal, in any part or 


JVVrt' Hampshire ] r ohtntccrs. 163 

plan, was too extremely repugnant for a moment's toleration ; and to be 
obliged to acknowledge them their masters, even as a military guard. 
was insufferably humiliating. But on the other side, the colored soldier 
when he found himself recognized as a man, by being clothed in the 
white man's uniform, armed with the musket, and protected bv the stars 
and stripes, was naturally proud and elated : and oftentimes, doubtless, 
when placed in command over the Confederate officials, to whom he was 
but yesterday a cringing vassal, he did not fail to show his importance by 
a most willing and too ready exercise of his authority 

So quick a change from the bottom to the top, that poor, despised race 
of the South had never hoped for or dreamed of : and when it came, the 
next greatest wonder to the change itself, is that they manifested, under 
the new order of things, as much prudence, moderation, and forbearance 
as they did. Justice on the page of history has never vet been done them. 
Another mighty revolution, in some respects far greater than the first 
(though the revolting element was of far different origin), bv a terrible 
earthquake shock of war, compared with which the former was almost an 
imperceptible tremble, had forced the "bottom rail on top.'' And who 
shall dare say that the black sycamore of the swamps, though long down- 
trodden in the mud, when hewn clear of its rotten sap by the strong arm 
of self-reliant manhood, dried out and seasoned by the sun of freedom, 
and polished by the brightening processes of experience and education, 
will not prove as valuable a material in the upbuilding of our new temple 
of liberty, as the white oak or hickory of the hills, that has never been 
stained by lying on the ground. Time mav, indeed, prove the latter the 
less enduring, bv reason of a dry rot at the heart, not now so easy to be 
discovered : for 

'"'Tis in the heart true worth exists, 
However skins mav differ " 

While at Point Lookout many of the sick and wounded, who had been 
absent in hospitals or on furloughs, returned to the regiment, glad to be 
with their old comrades once more, though not yet sufficiently recovered, 
some of them, to do duty Among the latter were Major Savage and 
Captain Durgin and several non-commissioned men and privates. Bv 
the addition of these, who were most heartily welcomed, and the new 
recruits, who were received as goats among sheep, the regiment was 
increased before spring to the minimum number requisite to a full com- 
plement of field and line officers. There was, consequently, a large 
number ot commissions signed and forwarded by Governor Gilmore for 
members of the Twelfth, some of whom had long expected them ; while 
others, -just as deserving, were greatly disappointed, as doubtless some 
had reason to be, because there were none for them. As many as four- 
teen commissions were received in a single day But all could not be 
officers, although nearlv every man of the original enlistment, who was 

iO-f Flistorx of the Tz.elfth Regiment 

then present for duty, was both competent and worthy to carry the sword 
instead of the musket. 

During the fall and winter there were many visitors from the North to 
the different regiments of the brigade, the Twelfth having its full share. 
Among them were Governor Gilmore, Larkin D. Mason, state agent, to 
look after the sick and wounded, who is still living in Tamworth, N. H., 
and Miss Harriet Dame, whose whole time was given to the care and 
comfort of New Hampshire soldiers in the field as well as in camp and 
hospital, and whose noble efforts in their behalf will be gratefully 
remembered by many long after she has gone to her reward. 

Of the Twelfth visitors there were many, coming from different parts of 
the State, and representing almost every station and profession of life, the 
clergy, however, predominating. But none were more welcome than the 
ladies, wives of the officers, who not only came but stopped a while, some 
of them remaining all winter The first to come were Mrs. Barker, Mrs. 
Winch, and Mrs. Sargent, who were soon followed by the wives of Major 
Savage, Doctors Fowler and Sanborn, Captains Shackford, Lang, May, 
Fernal, and Huntoon, Lieutenants Dunn, Milliken, Sanborn, Steward 
Hunt, and Woodbury Sanborn. 

Their presence greatly enhanced the social enjoyments of the camp, 
which, by their enlivening influence, soon resulted in numerous levees 
and dances of the officers, and made army life much more cheerful and 
homelike to all; tor a "bevy of fair women" for the boys to meet and 
greet with a smile and a salute, was a pleasing episode of a soldier's 
experience. But every pleasure has its pain and every rose its thorn ; 
and when spring called these officers again to the field, the parting was 
sadder, to some, than when they left their wives at home and started for 
the scenes of war, for they felt, as it proved, that they would never meet 
again, — 

"Unless it should be, where the spirit free. 
Would know and claim its own." 

Contraband Camp. 

Soon after the arrival at Point Lookout it was found necessary to establish a 
camp for the fast accumulating numbers of negroes that came into our lines, and, 
adopting the name given by General Butler at the beginning of the war, it was 
called " Camp Contraband." There was a constant effort of the slaves to get 
into the Yankee lines at every opportunity from the first march of the army 
southward, which, had it not been discouraged bv the very unwise practice ot 
sending them back to their masters as fast as thev came in, would soon have re- 
sulted in a great advantage to the Government. But it took the loyal North 
about two years to see the folly of fighting the rebels with one hand while feed- 
ing them with the other, so sensitive was the public mind upon the subject ot 
human slaver}'. 

While it had polluted the South, it had, to ;i dangerous extent, contaminated 

^Vr:: 1 Hampshire ]^olnntccrs. 165 

the moral sentiment of the North. A hundred years hence, the student of history 
will read with astonishment the record of the slave power in this country. The 
poisonous viper — first loathed, then tolerated, and at last nurtured, and even 
worshiped — had been suffered to drag its slimy length along, until it had wound 
its deadly coils around both state and church. And at last, when irritated by an 
opposition that threatened to arrest its attempt to reach over and around the 
vet free soil of the common domain, it madly struck its deadly fangs into the 
very vitals of the Commonwealth. And then the Government, as if to oppose 
the effect would remove the cause, tried to cauterize the wounds with the fire of 
war, while the viper was not only allowed to live, but actually assisted to strike ! 

But two years and a half, in the dear school of experience, had taught the 
Nation a lesson from which it was now beginning to profit. Beyond the rebel 
picket line the colored man felt himself no longer a slave, and when under the 
protection of the stars and stripes he became at once the Nation's ward — his 
ultimate status to be determined by the result of the war 

The able-bodied among them were rapidly and gladly exchanging the Con- 
federate hoe for the Federal gun ; while others, of both sexes, were made useful 
and self-sustaining in many wavs and places. And, under the wise supervision 
of some of our department commanders in the Southwest, their labor, in rais- 
ing and saving the cotton, tobacco, corn, and cotton crops upon the deserted 
plantations, was of great value to the Government. 

The arming of these men to help fight the battles of the Union, without the 
existence of which the liberty they sought would have been but a wicked mock- 
ery, was the signal for the most violent abuse and bitter denunciations of Presi- 
dent Lincoln's administration from Jeff". Davis & Co., and their sympathizers 
in the North. The}- said it was instituting savage butchery in place of civilized 
warfare, and was an insult to the bravery and intelligence of the Union soldiers, 
for which, all at once, thev seemed to have great love and respect. And some 
few there were, even in the ranks of blue, who though loudly declaiming, at first, 
that they would '• never fight by the side of a nigger," were glad, before the war 
was over, to screen themselves behind his back. But the mad howl that came up 
from the Confederate States was music to the ear of the reflective patriot, for he 
knew it was but a prelude to the long sad wail of despair that must soon follow. 

The slave-owners, and those having the care of the plantations during the war, 
used every means to keep the slaves from running away into the Union lines; 
but their promises and threats, as well as their oft repeated stories of the terrible 
treatment they were sure to receive at the hands of the inhuman Yankee, 
were all in vain. One of these slaves, who, by his intelligence, had become the 
toto factum of one of the large plantations of Eastern Virginia had, with great 
caution and shrewdness, planned and made all necessary arrangements for the 
escape of some thirty or forty men, women, and children; and so cleverly had 
the whole matter been managed, that but a few hours before the darkness of the 
night that was to cover their flight, his master had manifested especial confidence 
in him, not doubting but the false promises and representations, so frequently 
made to him, were implicitly believed and relied upon. But the next morning 
he awoke to a realizing sense of the fact, that the deceiver himself is sometimes 
deceived. The name of this slave was George Gaskin. An affecting incident 
°' the landing and death of his aged grandmother — supposed to be over a 

1 66 History of the Tzuelfth Regiment 

hundred years old — at the camp on the Marvland side of the river, is related 
elsewhere in this history 

These refugees continued to come in until at times there were not less than two 
thousand of them in camp, although they were constantly being taken out as 
called for or needed in other places. Some were sent North to earn a living as 
servants and laborers; some at once found places as cooks and waiters for the 
officers in the army ; while a large number were constantly employed by the 
Government in driving teams, loading and unloading boats and cars, chopping, 
shoveling, etc. 

But the ablest bodied among them, of the right age, were enlisted into the 
military service, and, officered by men taken from the ranks of the veteran regi- 
ments, proved themselves worthy of the freedom they were willing to tight for 
on the field of battle. Two full regiments were enrolled from this camp, while 
the brigade remained there; and it is not known how many enlisted afterward 
before the close of the war. Some, apparently stout and sound, were found 
upon examination, to use the words of one who saw, "all broken to pieces" 
from cruel and abusive treatment while in bondage. But most of them bore no 
such marks of cruelty, and acknowledged that they were very well treated and 
cared for by their masters; and when asked why then thev ran away, would 
respond : " 'Cause, Marsa, I wants to be free." 

A visit to this camp was much pleasing, more instructive, and most interest- 
ing. One of the leading manifestations of these people was their eagerness to 
learn to read ; and the rapid progress they made was scarcely less surprising. 
The old would vie with the voung to improve this first privilege of their lives to 
acquire the rudiments of that knowledge which thev seemed to feel and know 
had given the whites their superiority over them, and a want of which was the 
chief cause of their degraded condition. To see old men and women with their 
heads white like wool, striving hard to learn the letters of the alphabet, that 
they might set an example to the younger, and perhaps get so they could read a 
little in the Bible themselves before they died, as thev would express themselves, 
was a sight that could not fail to convince the observer that the negro was quite 
a.s late a descendent of the ape as the white man. 

There, among the rest, was old "Father Willoughbv," as he was called, a 
veritable "Cncle Tom" in Christian goodness, and something of a Socratic 
philosopher in his way Of his intellectual ability it is sufficient here to saw 
that our noble chaplain, Ambrose, who was himself a logical reasoner, and 
spent much of his time in giving mental and religious instruction to these people, 
said that never did he feel his own inferiority more than when talking with this 
untutored slave at whose ieet he could daily sit and learn wisdom. Original 
ideas would drop like uncut diamonds from his lips, needing only cutting and 
setting to become bright jewels of thought. 

But in describing the colored man of the South, as seen by the I'nion soldier, 
we need hardly refer to his most distinguishing characteristic, since everybody 
who has ever heard or read of him knows that it is as natural for a negro to 
hne fun as for a Jew to love money. And the plantation "Sambo" of ante- 
bellum days, despite the hard lines of toil and suffering that environed him, 
would make the evenings merry with frolicsome sports and amusements. 

Closely allied with this, and in fact an inseparable part of it, was their love oi 

JWrr Hampshire Volunteers. 167 

music and song ; and to hear some of their melodies sung by ten or a dozen of 
them, with banjo or tambourine accompaniment, is a treat to those who never 
before came nearer to anything of the kind than a minstrel show. If the reader 
could take a night trip up or down the Ocklawaha river and listen to the planta- 
tion songs with their joyous refrains, Ming by all the boat's crew, male and 
female, circled around a blaze of pitch pine knots, kept burning on the hurricane 
deck to light up the dark and tortuous course of the steamer, he would both see 
and hear what memory would never fail to reproduce so long as he should live. 

It was this innate propensity of the colored race to be always found on the 
smiling side of life — to play the fiddle or the banjo, " pat the juba," and datice 
the clog — that led, or mis-led, many to believe, what the southern planter 
claimed, that the slave was altogether happy and contented in his condition of 
servitude, and that his freedom would prove to him and his owner both a sorrow 
and a curse. 

More than a quarter of a century has passed since the chains of their thraldom 
were snapped asunder; but, so far from the prediction being verified, there is 
probably not a person, white or black, in the whole South, not excepting Jeffer- 
son Davis himself, who is not glad instead of sorry that the "curse" — not of 
freedom, but of human slavery — is forever removed from our fair, prosperous, 
and promising domain. But this sketch of the "Contraband" would be incom- 
plete without a few words about his religion, or rather his devotional exercises; 
for his religious belief was substantially the same as that of his master who 
generally belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church, the great schism in which, 
on the question of slavery, was the first important step toward the still greater 
political rupture between the Noitii and the South that soon followed. 

Emotional by nature and credulous from ignorance, it is not strange that their 
religious ideas were considerably mixed up with superstition, and reached much 
farther into the mystic regions of the wonderful and miraculous than would be 
thought reasonably necessary and proper among them to-day. 

One Sabbath afternoon Lieutenants Prescott and Bartlett attended one of their 
meetings, held in the chapel-tent of their encampment. Some fifty or more of 
men, women, and children were present, and all except the visitors took an act- 
ive part in the exercises. These consisted of preaching or exhorting (perhaps 
the latter is the more appropriate word), praying, singing, shouting, moaning, 
groaning, and weeping, all timed, emphasized, and intensified by shaking hands, 
stamping the feet, nodding the head, swinging the body, and other strange and 
erratic motions and gesticulations, repeated over and over until they would work 
themselves up to the highest pitch of frenzy. Some of them would drop uncon- 
scious upon the floor as if dead, while others would go into hysterical fits, as it 
appeared to their Gentile listeners, and then it would be lively work for the broth- 
ers and sisters to manage them. It was, of course, a strange sight for the officers, 
and so different from anything of the kind ever seen before that it made a lasting 
impression upon their minds. 

One large, fat woman who was "taken wid de power," as they called it, was 
so violently demonstrative in the corporeal expression of her spiritual ecstasy 
that it took three or four strong sisters to so far match her new-born strength, as 
to keep her within the hounds of personal safety, to say nothing about church 
propriety. While intently watching the operation of the "power" upon the 

168 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

woman, a tall vmin« man, standing just in front of where the visitor* were sitting, 
fell hack prostrate upon the benches as if dead, anil then the shout went up: 
" Thank de Lord, another sinner down! " But he had onlv been struck by the 
••power" which instead of producing death was the first outward sign, as they 
believed, of everlasting life. 

Their sacred hymns, like their plantation songs, were nearly all chorus, being 
little more than the repetition of one or two lines of the same measure, with now 
and then the variation of a new word or line. One of these as sung by them on 
this occasion was worded as follows : 

Come, all ye folks, come along wid me. 
For I's goin' to jine wid dat army ; 
Goin' to jine de army of de Lord, 
For I's goin' to jine wid dat army 

Come, brother, come, come along wid me, 
( Chorus . ) 

Come, sister, come, come along wid me, 
{Chorus. ) 

Come, sinner, come, come along wid me, 

And so the verses would be continued and the words repeated until it seemed as 
if there was to be no end. 

In singing this and other similar songs, as many as could (probably all had 
there been room) would form in a ring, join hands, and keep time by the swing- 
ing of their arms up and down like a pump-handle hand shake, and giving the 
downward beat vehemence enough to swav the bodv and jerk the head in so forci- 
ble and vigorous a manner that, but for their strange and amusing appearance, 
would have been almost as painfully tiresome to observe as to perform. This 
they would prolong, accompanied bv the stamping of feet, at every swing ot the 
arms until quite exhausted. Then they would fall upon their knees, and, as 
soon as sufficient breath was recovered, some one would lead in prayer to be fol- 
lowed by others too full of the spirit to withhold until the first one had got through, 
and then came a test trial of lung power in praying, as there had already been in 

And \et, with all here written, and much more there witnessed, there was in 
every word and act such a serious earnestness, and fervent spirit of reverence 
and devotion that what, under other circumstances, would have been a most 
amusing free exhibition of the oddities and follies of an ignorant and superstitious 
race, was at this time and place too seriously impressive to admit of either ridicule 
or criticism. 

Whatever may have been the effect of this meeting upon those who partici- 
pated in the exercises, one, at least, of those who onlv saw and heard, learned a 
lesson that he has never forgotten. And he questions not that many aristocratic 
members of our rich ami fashionable churches in the great college-honored cities 
of the North, and perhaps some of the ministers, might learn a lesson of Christian 
humility, and be brought to a keener sense of their own moral responsibility, 
could they attend one of these meetings, and listen to some of the simple-worded, 
but fervently eloquent and soul-touching prayers, so sincerely and earnestly 
offered up by these poor, illiterate worshippers. 


From Point Lookout to Drury's Bluff 

At noon on the nth of April, 1864, the steamer "Thomas A. Morgan,'' 
already loaded with the Twelfth, leaves her moorings at Point Lookout 
and steams down the Chesapeake towards Yorktown, where she drops 
anchor about 8 o'clock in the evening. Although it seemed almost 
like leaving home, after eight months so pleasantly passed in contrast 
with active field service, vet, to the new members at least, it was like the 
son's first leaving the paternal roof — sad to leave, but glad to be away 
In the hearts of manv of the recruits, however, there was no feeling of 
sadness, for thev now saw some prospect of finding what they had so 
long been waiting for — a good chance to desert — which they soon 
began to improve. 

During the afternoon a regiment of colored troops were met, on their 
way to take the place of the Fifth Regiment, then under marching orders. 
The Second was alreadv at Yorktown, having left the Point four days 

As soon as light the next morning the regiment disembarked and lay 
outside of the old fortifications until 7 a. m., when it marched to Williams- 
burg, a distance of twelve miles, and stacked arms for encampment 
near the old battle ground, where, nearlv a year before, the brave fol- 
lowers of Hooker and Kearney, directed by General Heintzleman, so 
stubbornly held the field against a large portion of the rebel army To 
the old members of the Second every thing was familiar, and called up 
afresh the sad memory of many a brave comrade who fell on that 
sanguinary field. 

The Second and Twelfth, with the One Hundred and Forty-eighth 
New York Volunteers, were united at Yorktown, forming with the 
Eleventh Connecticut, that soon after joined, the Second Brigade in the 
Second Division of the Eighteenth Army Corps, commanded respectively 
by Generals Wistar, Weitzel, and Smith. At Williamsburg "A" tents 
were drawn, and from the care and pains taken in laying out and fixing 
up the encampment, there seemed some ground for believing the other- 
wise very improbable camp story, that the brigade was expected to 
remain here for several months. This was told, of course, as a mere 
bund to the rebel citizen spies, who were ever ready to watch and report 
to their generals every movement of our troops. 

170 Hist or y 0/ the Twelfth Regiment 

From the 12th to the 24th the men were kept busy in company, bat- 
talion, and skirmish drills, target shooting, and picket duty Then' 
were, sometimes, four drills a day, which the old members felt as another 
burden brought upon them by the new recruits. 

On the 24th orders came to send all surplus baggage to Yorktown, and 
exchange "A" tents for shelters. This had a business look to it that 
could not be mistaken: and now the "subs," several of whom had 
already deserted since leaving Point Lookout, began to sift out faster 
than ever It was evident that something must be done, or the roll of 
recruits in the Twelfth would diminish fro rata with the Second, from 
which over a hundred had deserted in three davs. A general court 
martial was instituted bv order of General Wistar. of which Lieutenant 
Bartlett of the Twelfth was appointed judge advocate, and several of the 
apprehended deserters were tried, found guilty, and sentenced to be shot, 
subject to the approval of the President. Two had already been shot in the 
Second, and two more apprehended at the same time were executed on 
the 29th in the presence of the brigade at Williamsburg. This was the 
first time that the Twelfth had ever witnessed an execution of the extreme 
penalty of military law, and the scene is still quite vivid in the minds of 
some who saw it. 

The spot having been selected and two graves dug, the regiments of 
the brigade are marched out at the hour appointed and formed into three 
sides of a hollow square, facing inward, with the newlv-dug graves in 
the middle of the open side. Soon the "mark time" beat of the muffled 
drum is heard, and the condemned men, riding on their rough-made 
coffins, and guarded bv twelve soldiers, selected from the Second Regi- 
ment, as executioners, slowly approach the square, and entering at one 
end of the open side, are driven round the whole distance of the other three 
sides, close in front of the lines. As they pass along, their countenances 
are closely scanned by every soldier, eager to read therefrom the 
emotions of the soul within. One of them, with downcast, sorrowful gaze 
looks as if he realizes his situation, and that the woeful sorrow for the past, 
that has brought him here, is nearly equal to the dread of the terrible 
present that is now before him. The other acts more like one riding 
to a circus than his own grave A brutish grin is on his face, accom- 
panied with an indifference of demeanor that seems half real and halt 
affected. The teams are halted in front of the graves, beside which the 
coffins are placed, and the victims, dismounting from the cart, remain 
standing while the provost martial reads the death warrant and a prayer 
is made bv the chaplain. Thev are next seated upon their coffins, their 
caps removed (the heedless one, bound to die game, taking his off him- 
self and throwing it for some distance), their eves bandaged with hand- 
kerchiefs, and now the dreadful moment of death-waiting suspense has 
arrived. The provost steps to one side a few paces, raises his hand, and 
twelve muskets instantly come to a "reach": a little higher the hand. 

JWri' Hampshire Johintccrs. iji 

and the muskets are aimed and waiting ; his hand drops, and Owen 
McDonald and James Scott fall over their coffins into eternity 

Some days, when going out on picket, the detail passed through the 
citv of Williamsburg This is one of the oldest places in the country, the 
seat of the once celebrated William and Mary College, and for more 
than three quarters of a century the capitol of the Old Dominion, "the 
mother of presidents." And what a picture lesson for the intelligent 
New England soldier to study ' The college, the oldest except Harvard, 
and once the richest in the country, had long existed only in a building 
and a name : and now. with only a part still standing as a solemn 
mockery of its former greatness, the main building being burned the 
year before, with dilapidation painfully visible on every side and Ichabod 
written too plainly over all. the question would constantly arise in the 
mind, what is the cause of this great change, while Cambridge, Dart- 
mouth, and Yale, where the rich slave holders had for years sent their 
sons to be educated, are in the full measure of their usefulness r To this 
inquiiw responsive Reason could give but one reply : It was the blighting 
institution of human slavery 

On the morning of May 4, orders were received to march at noon, with 
four days' rations : and while camp-fires blazed high with every combus- 
tible thing left in camp, the regiment right faces into column and is soon 
moving past Fort Magruder toward Yorktown. After marching about two 
miles to the Whittaker House, General Wistar's headquarters, where the 
rest of the brigade, now including the Eleventh Connecticut, was in wait- 
ing. a halt was ordered : and no further move was made until dark. The 
command then turned to the right into the woods, and marched silently 
and swiftly to Grove Landing on the James river, and about 10 o'clock 
went aboard transports and lay at anchor for the night. After leaving 
the Whittaker House great caution was required to make no noise, and 
the men were not allowed to build fire enough to boil their usual dipper 
of coffee before embarking 

This movement of the brigade was made under special instructions 
from General Smith to General Wistar, dated May 3, as follows : 

"Your command will march so as to arrive at Grove Landing when it 
is fairly dark to-morrow evening, at which time you will commence to 
embark. You will make your men comfortable. Show no lights, and 
permit no noise. About 2.30 \. m. — 5th instant — you will move out 
into the stream so as to fall in rear of Heckman's brigade when it comes. 
Some signal will be designated to you by telegraph, by which you will 
know his rear boat." 

It will be seen bv this order in connection with the break-camp bonfire, 
previously alluded to. that Butler and his generals had much less fear 
that the enemy should know that some of their troops were leaving, than 
that he should find out where the most of them were going. But how 
General Smith expected his brigade commander to make his men "com- 

17- History of the Tzcclfth Regiment 

fortable,'' without a spark of fire to cook or warm bv, is not quite so easy 
to understand. 

The next morning was clear and pleasant, and as soon as light, boats 
of all kinds, from a freight barge to an ironclad ram or a double-turreted 
monitor, were seen coming up the river, increasing with the hours, until 
when at 8 o'clock, the "Ocean Wave," loaded with the Twelfth, swung 
into line, the river was filled with the fleet of General Butler, the iron- 
clads and other war vessels, including the captured rebel ram "At- 
lanta," under the command of Admiral Lee, taking the lead. In the 
meantime a small force had been sent bv transports up the York and 
Pamunkey rivers to White House Landing to attract the attention of the 
enemy in that direction, while two flanking forces of cavalrv, commanded 
bv Colonel West and General Kautz, moved out from Williamsburg and 
Suffolk and advanced up the north and south sides of the James. The 
destination and purpose of Butler's expedition, to march quicklv into 
Richmond bv the back door, while Lee was busv keeping Grant out of 
the front one, was now apparent to his followers, who hitherto had been 
as much in the dark as the rebels. The plan, suggested bv General But- 
ler and approved of bv Grant, was a good one : but whether to succeed 
or not depended, like all other military moves of the kind, almost entirely 
upon the celerity of its execution. 

The fleet came to anchor about 9 o'clock in the evening at Bermuda 
Hundred and City Point, near the confluence of the Appomatox river 
with the James : and about three hours later, during which time the 
pioneer corps were busy constructing a temporary wharf, the " Ocean 
Wave " moves up to the landing, and the regiment is soon again upon 
terra Jirma where, after marching about a mile, the men were glad to 
find a chance to sleep. But their rest was short and sweet, for at half 
past three the next morning they were aroused from their slumbers, and 
bv six were on the road toward Chester Station on the Petersburg & 
Richmond railroad. After marching about four miles Heckman's brig- 
ade, in the advance, forms a line of battle in the woods in front, and soon 
the familiar sound of "popping corn" is heard, telling that his skirmish 
line has found the enemy During the afternoon a part of the Second 
Brigade was brought up in line of battle on the left and two companies 
of the Twelfth sent out as skirmishers. Toward night there was quite 
heavy firing on the advance right, and the remainder of Wistar's brig- 
ade, including the Twelfth, was aligned for action, and held in reserve: 
but the enemy fell back and the first day toward Richmond ended with 
but little results. That it had been a complete surprise, however, to the 
rebel authorities there was ample evidence. Houses were found vacated, 
with every indication of having -just been left by their occupants, the 
dishes and victuals on the table, in one or two of them, showing that their 
breakfast had not been finished. 

A large mansion pleasantly situated on a high plateau near the 

Xezv Hampshire Volunteers. 173 

^\ ( 

Appomatox, was owned and occupied by a rich planter by the name of 
Cobb. The engineers, having fixed upon this spot as the best place for 
a redoubt, ordered the house demolished, which was done mainly by a 
detail from the Second Regiment, encamped near by, and the well filled 
up with bricks. A negro hut left standing, was used, for a while, as a 
signal station, messages being sent and received from a small platform 
built across the ridge-pole. Later, a small fort was thrown up where the 
house had stood, and close by a signal tower, one hundred and thirty 
feet high, was erected, from the top of which Petersburg was in plain 
view, and the steeples of Richmond could be distinctly seen in a clear 
day without the aid of a glass. This was known as "Cobb Hill Station" 
or ''Butler's Tower,'* and was the chief point of attraction to all visitors 
from Washington and the North until the close of the war It was used 
both as an observing and transmitting station, and was for some time in 
charge of a signal officer detached from the Twelfth, and especially 
instructed for that service.* 

Some of the negroes, having more love for the Yankees than their 
masters, managed, in the hurrv and confusion of the escape of the whites, 
to hide away or linger behind until they were out of sight, and then come 
into our lines. One who had been a slave on the Cobb plantation, was 
noticed by his owner, or one of his family, just as thev were leaving the 
premises to the fate of war. quietly sitting down beneath a tree, and 
making no effort to get away And when admonished to leave at once 
or the "Yanks" would have him, replied : " No use to run, Mars a, for 
'pears 'o thev 're go'n' all o'er creation, and will have us all, soon 'r later, 
anyhow." There was both wisdom and wit in this rejoinder, which 
showed, moreover, that Tom — for that was his name — understood the 
situation full as well, if not better than his master. He afterward acted 
as cook and groom for the signal officer above mentioned, and proved 
himself as true and faithful as a servant as he had doubtless been as a 
slave. But when his master ran away from him, instead of he from his 
master, he felt himself under no obligation to follow after, and turn his 
back upon the long-wished-for opportunity for gaining his freedom that 
was now present for his embrace. 

Another, who came in from Petersburg the next day, reported conster- 
nation there among the inhabitants, as they expected an immediate attack 
by our forces, while the city was in an almost defenseless condition, there 
being nothing but an improvised force of citizens and a few soldiers to 
defend it. He also said that General Beauregard had just arrived in the 
cityf Here then was a golden opportunity fast slipping away An 
hour's delay, now, meant a year more of agony and desolation to the 
Nation, and another holocaust of death, already commenced in the terrible 
struggle of the Wilderness. The key was in Butler's hands, and had he 

* Sec picture, description, incidents, etc., under the head of "Signal Service in the Army." 
t Beauregard did not arrive until the 10th. 

174 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

quickly turned it the right way the country and the world would long 
ago have placed his name with Grant's, Sherman's, and Sheridan's. 
That night a portion of his army should, as it doubtless could, have slept 
inside of the fortifications of Petersburg But delays are dangerous, and 
never more so than in an attempt to surprise a vigilant and powerful toe 
acting on the defensive in his own country 

The next day occurred the skirmish fight, known as the battle of Ber- 
muda Hundred, in which Brooks's division drove back the thin lines of 
the enemy, and took possession and tore up two or three miles of the 
Richmond & Petersburg railroad. Although the Twelfth was in line 
of battle to support the attack, if needed, it was not engaged. General 
Ransom, in command of the rebels, having managed to get two or three 
batteries down from Richmond the night before to use until an infantrv 
force could be collected, there being then only about twelve hundred men 
to confront our whole army, it was thought, judging by the artillery fire, 
that quite a heavy force was readv to resist our advance ; and most of the day 
was spent in entrenching, to prevent being pushed back bv an imaginary 
foe, instead of pushing forward and capturing the real one. Brigadiers 
and their staffs were riding in every direction, and commands of infantry 
and artillery hurried to the front, as if on the eve of a great and decisive 
battle. The next day was Sunday, but how different from that peaceful, 
quiet day at home ' About half of the regiment were sent out on picket, 
and the rest were employed in assisting the pioneers and on fatigue duty 
There was a vigorous attack now made upon the woods, and the sound 
of axes and falling trees, heard on everv side, reminded one ot the mus- 
ketry and artillery of battle. The wounded of the day before were 
carried by to the rear early in the morning, and the morrow would doubt- 
less increase the number, for at 6 o'clock p. m., there was an order to 
move by light the next day. with one day's rations and in light marching 
order General Butler, impatient of longer delay, had determined at last 
to throw forward his whole force, and effect, if possible, more decisive 

"General Smith was to endeavor to reach the railroad bridge over 
Swift Creek, supported bv General Gillmore on the left, toward Chester 
Station." * 

Petersburg, it seems, was then the objective point. Gillmore reached 
and destroyed several miles of the railroad during the afternoon, while 
Smith engaged the enemy at Swift Creek. 

The plan was "to pass Swift Creek, reach the Appomatox, and destroy 
the bridges across it : while General Hinks, with his colored troops, was 
to move on the south side of the river upon Petersburg itself, and create 
a diversion, if he could not take the city, while the enemy was defending 
the line of the Creek."* 

The Twelfth moved with the rest of the division at daylight: and. 

' General Butler's account. 

^.Yrn' Hampshire I'ohin/eers. 17 c; 

preceded bv Brooks's division, marched down the turnpike, as soon as 
reached, toward Petersburg, 

The day was much too warm for comfort, even in the shade, and 
there was an uninviting prospect of having warmer work than marching 
for the boys to do before night. Several were more or less seriously 
affected bv the heat, among whom was Major Langlev, who was taken 
sick just as the regiment was going into action ; and Captain Barker took 
command as the next ranking officer Although the former now and 
then assumed command after that, when the regiment was on the march 
or in camp, he never was present with it in anv battle after the first dav 
at Gettysburg, the danger and responsibility always devolving upon 
Captain Barker 

After marching six or seven miles. General Brooks found himself con- 
fronted bv the enemv who immediately opened tire with his artillery, 
supported by quite a large force of infantry General Weitzel at once 
moved forward and deployed Heckman's brigade of his division, with its 
centre on the turnpike- where he posted one section of Follet's battery 
Wistar's brigade was ordered up in support of Heckman, but not yet 
deployed. The division moved forward in this way until it came up with 
Marston's brigade of Brooks's division, and while his command was 
getting into position, General Heckman advanced his skirmishers, and 
opened fire with his artillery The fire of the enemy increasing, our 
brigade (Wistar's) moved forward and deployed on the right of Heck- 
man s : and the veterans of the Twelfth soon found themselves exposed 
to lead as well as iron once more, while to the recruits it was a new 
experience that blanched the faces of some of them. 

The regiment now advanced into a narrow strip of woods, through 
which the roar of battle came with frightful intensity 

There was heavy musketry in the immediate front, and spiteful Minies 
were hissing all around ; but the most of them passed harmlessly over- 
head or buried themselves in the pine trees. The Twelfth was near the 
extreme right of the actual battle line, and was preceded by the Eleventh 
Connecticut, which received the first fire of the enemy, and must have 
suffered considerable loss. It soon fell back in some confusion, and the 
Twelfth advanced and took its place. 

At about this time there was a charge of some South Carolina troops 
against our centre, upon and near the turnpike, which was repulsed by 
Heckman's brigade, assisted bv Wistar's ; and the enemy was then driven 
back in confusion to some distance beyond the church, leaving the 
ground covered, in places, with their dead and severely wounded. 

The rebels in the immediate front of the Twelfth had taken a position 
behind a rail fence, within less than fifty yards from the edge of the 
woods ; but they fell back in a few minutes after the regiment opened fire 
upon them, being outflanked by the advance of Heckman's brigade, after 
having repulsed the charge above referred to. 

176 His/ ory of the T'-jclfth Regiment 

Just before the Eleventh Connecticut fell back, quite a laughable inci- 
dent occurred in the successful effort of a lieutenant and a sergeant, of 
Company B. both undersized, to swing into line by their coat tails, two 
overgrown musketeers of that regiment — one of them an orderly ser- 
geant — who had faced about and started for the rear 

This engagement, which is recorded in history as the battle of Swilt 
Creek or Harrowfield Church, was short and sharp : and. according to 
rebel authorities, their retreat, if followed up, might have resulted in the 
capture of Petersburg 

A short time before lorming a line of battle, but while within reach of 
the enemy's artillerv. George W Clark, of Company K, lost his right 
arm and leg by the explosion of a shell. He was at the time sitting 
upon the ground, surrounded by several of his comrades : but none, 
except himself, were seriouslv injured. He said it was a personal call 
for which he did not feel especially grateful. Several others of the 
Twelfth were wounded during the engagement, but none mortally 

A remarkable coincidence of this battle, in relation to the contest 
between Massachusetts and South Carolina troops, will be related later 
in this history 

The church from which this battle takes its name, and around which 
the battle fiercely raged, is still standing, unrepaired, and plainly shows 
by the many bullet holes in both sides, that it stood for a while between 
the contending lines. When visited a few years ago by Lieutenant 
Rufus E. Gale and the writer, it appeared as sombre and solemn as a 
tomb : and not strangely so either, for memory repictured the dead and 
dying who had once filled and surrounded it. To the surprise ot the 
visitors, who walked over the distance, it was found to be but two miles 
from Petersburg city, between which and the Union army, at the time of the 
battle, there existed but nearly vacant works of defense, and a small 
defeated and retreating force of the enemy Only two miles ot almost 
unobstructed way, and more than twenty thousand comparatively fresh 
troops, leaving ample reserves, to fill it; and yet that most important 
plain, vitally so to the Confederate cause, left unmolested ' 

General Butler — being misled, as he says,* by false reports from the 
Army of the Potomac, from which he believed that Grant was driving 
Lee's forces, defeated and demoralized, rapidly southward — concluded, 
before the light of the next day, when he was to have pushed forward 
toward or into Petersburg, to change his plan of operating any further in 
that direction, and turn his course toward Richmond, in or around which 
he expected to join his army with that of the Potomac, and give a finish- 
ing stroke to the rebellion. 

That night the men slept on their arms, but were called up three or 
four times to repel an expected attack. There was a detail from the reg- 
iment the next morning to help bury the rebel dead, with which the 

' See many pages of explanation in " 1'uitiei s Own Book," which should lie read by every survivor of 
the Armv of the James. 

JYczl' Hampshire Volunteers. 177 

ground in front of Heckman's brigade was nearly covered. " That man 
is alive," said a soldier to an officer of the Twelfth as he was carefully 
finding his way across the ground. "What man do you mean?*' "The 
one you have just stepped over "' A glance at the upturned face and 
then, "Yes. in Heaven, I hope." " But he is alive: you get down and 
see if he isn't." And true as it was strange, though looking to be as 
dead as his comrades around him, closer examination showed that he 
still breathed, fourteen hours after having the back part of his head torn 
off by a shell ' Sad and sickening as was the sight of the battlefield, 
a more pitiable one was presented in the old church near by, filled with 
the Confederate wounded. How quick the hatred of man turns into 
tender compassion at such a sight as this ; and something comes up from 
the depths of his soul, where dwells the germ of immortality, that savs : 
This is all wrong: man was not made to kill his fellow man. An hour, 
perhaps, ago, and at bayonet points they seek each other's lives ; but 
now, like noxious vapors of the night exhaled in the morning dew, the 
base passions of the human heart are washed away bv tears, and the 
brute is a man again. 

About noon, while the ravs of the mid-day's sun were almost hot 
enough to liquify the air, the Twelfth, with the rest of the brigade, 
started on a forced march of four miles up the turnpike to reinforce Gen- 
eral Terry who, in command of a part of the Tenth Corps, was heavily 
engaged with the enemy at Lempster Hill. This was the severest test of 
physical endurance that the regiment was ever called upon to make, in 
the same length of time, on a march. No man that fell by the wavside 
that afternoon, and there were many, could be accused or suspicioned of 
"playing it." Almost as consistent to accuse a company of hunters, who 
had run through a North Carolina pitch pine conflagration, of pretend- 
ing to be overcome bv the heat. Indeed, the comparison is but a part of 
the reality, for when the brigade came up to the scene of action the 
underbrush of the woods that had been set on fire was still burning, and 
into these woods, from which Terry's men had been driven, a portion of 
the reintorcements, among which was Company B of the Twelfth, was 
obliged to advance to form a skirmish and picket line. 

" Stand it for half an hour if possible, and you shall be relieved," were 
the words of Captain Barker to the nearly exhausted men of his old 
company as they advanced into the smoke and fire. With their blood 
already boiling within their veins, it seemed impossible for them to bear 
up under the terrible ordeal, and withstand both the heat of the sun and 
the flames. And so it proved : for the lieutenant commanding the com- 
pany, hurrying back and forward to have his command connect — before' 
the enemy should again attack — with the details from the other regiments, 
snapped the over-strained cord of his physical endurance, and he fell 
exhausted upon the ground, feeling, as he afterwards expressed it, as 
if every drop of his blood had instantly turned into ice water. This 

178 J 'Fist 'or v of the Tzuclfth Regiment 

instance is given to illustrate the experience of all in a greater or less 
degree, as they were more or less able to withstand the heat and toil of 
the day Captain Barker, in a letter home, writes that "over one hun- 
dred of the regiment were prostrated bv the heat on the 9th and 10th." 
The enemy having been repulsed, the brigade, after a few hours rest — 
as necessary as desirable — marched back in the evening to its late 
camping ground. 

The officer above referred to by a quick and free application of cold 
water upon his head recovered so that he was able to return to camp with 
the regiment bv riding on a cannon, but has probably never fullv recov- 
ered from the effects of the shock to this day 

On the 1 2th another advance was made by the whole army, but this 
time toward Richmond : the Eighteenth and Tenth Corps forming the 
right and left wings. Day had but just dawned when the Twelfth started 
again in search of the enemy The turnpike was soon reached, but not 
now, as on Tuesday, to burn and choke in the sun and dust, for the 
clouds that had obscured the one had already commenced to secure the 
other ; and rain and mud, however disagreeable, was a most welcome 
change from the scorching sun and suffocating dust. In line of battle, 
with the Second Brigade in the lead and the Twelfth in the front line, 
the division advances up the turnpike some three or four miles with but little 
opposition, the enemy falling slowly back. Now and then the scattering 
skirmish fire would thicken into volleys, as if the resisting force had 
taken a position and intended to hold it ; but no sooner would the reserve 
come up to the relief of the skirmishers, than the enemy would fall back 
again, showing that they were fighting to gain time for reinforcements 
before daring to risk a general engagement. Thus were the rebel troops 
driven back about four miles to Proctor's Creek. Here night found the 
picket lines of the two armies so closely confronting each other that 
orders were given to shoot at anything that approached without calling 
a halt. A detail from the regiment went on picket. 

The temperature had fallen rapidly during the day, and the night set 
in cold and rainy It is hard enough for men in the front line, as was 
the Twelfth, to be obliged to lie all night on their arms in the cold 
drenching rain ; but for the picket, who has to stand where the snap of a 
twig beneath, or the fall of a limb or piece of bark from above, vividly 
suggests to his mind the stealthy advance of a rebel in front, and where 
the blaze of a match to light his pipe, unless carefully covered from sight, 
is at the peril of his life, it is even harder Sometimes imagination will 
give human shape to the darkness in the direction of the sound, and then, 
without a word, he takes deliberate aim at nothing, and discharges his 
musket. This, of course, is followed bv shots from the enemy's pickets, 
answered by our own ; and soon the reserves are roused up and stand to 
arms an hour or more. But this night the heavy fall of rain drowned 
out all other sounds, save the dismal howl of the wind through the forest 
trees, and no false alarm disturbed the tired soldiers rest. 

-Vt"i* Hampshire Yohintccrs. 170 

The 13th, so far as the Twelfth and rest of the brigade participated, 
was but a repetition of the clay before, the rebel lines, closely contesting 
every foot of ground before yielding it, were driven back to the Relav 
House, half way on the turnpike between Petersburg and Richmond, 
but only a few miles nearer either place than where the troops landed at 
Bermuda Hundred seven days before. The rain continued to fall durincr 
the day and night, yet a bow of promise appeared to the mental vision 
when the news came that Grant was driving Lee back, and had "cap- 
tured forty guns and six thousand prisoners." News of this kind, 
whether true or false, was generally believed by the soldiers, for a report 
of what we ardently wish we easily believe ; and something of this kind 
was needed at this time to cheer up the half desponding officers and 
men, who had already begun to fear that Butler had lost the key to the 
rear entrance, and if Richmond was taken at all that spring it would be 
by the Army of the Potomac, and not by that of the James. 

On the 14th occurred what is referred to by some of the southern 
authors as the attack upon Fort Stevens, but to which the Twelfth Regi- 
ment has given the name of the Battle of the Relay House, as it was 
near the latter that the affair commenced early in the morning, bv a loss 
in the regiment of one man killed and several wounded, and ended in the 
afternoon by the capture of the fort in the assault upon which it took a 
conspicuous part. 

The outer line of the enemy's defenses, on a commanding ridge of 
land, were abandoned after a slight resistance, as General Beauregard 
"thought it better to concentrate his troops" before risking a general 
engagement,* and the Army of the James, now extending from that river 
or near it, across and for some distance beyond the turnpike, advanced 
slowly and cautiously over the next rise of ground, running back from 
the river nearly parallel with the first, and known as Drury's Bluff. The 
Twelfth, still in the front line, advances through a piece of woods, where 
the spiked tops of the felled trees made further progress both difficult and 
dangerous, and suddenly debouches close upon the glacis of a small fort. 
Fortunately the guns of the fort just then were too busy in another direc- 
tion to turn their attention upon the " Mountaineers,"' otherwise the fight- 
ing record of the regiment, without new recruits, would have ended then 
and there. But the situation was too perilous for such good luck to con- 
tinue long, and no sooner was the clear ground reached, where a rapid 
advance upon the fort could be made, than two howitzers open fire at 
short range with shell and scrapnel upon them. It seemed now as if 
httle less than annihilation would be the fate of the brave men, who, stern 
and steady, were moving into the very jaws of death. The first shell 
passes over the heads of the men and explodes just in the rear. 

The rebel gunners, firing from the parapet of the fort at so short a 
range, had miscalculated the angle of depression, and cut their fuse cor- 

* Risi mid Fall of the Confederate Government, by Jefferson Davis. 

I So History of the Izcelfth Regiment 

respondingly long : the second, third, fourth, and fifth, each coming 
closer and bursting nearer than the preceding one, until the last barely 
grazes the low bowed heads of the men and explodes but a few feet in 
their rear The last? Would it had been so' but before the Union 
sharpshooters, who had crept up under the fort, could silence the guns, 
another shot strikes in the front of Company G, and nine more men of 
that ill-fated company are left behind to find their way or be carried to 
the field hospital, where one of them, A. Ii. Prescott, soon after expired. 

The rebels, finding capture or evacuation the only alternative, chose 
the latter, and fell back into another and larger fort, from which they 
opened a destructive lire upon such troops as, in the attack upon the 
smaller one, had come within range. This exposure, which was shared 
by the Twelfth, was, however, of short duration: for one or two of our 
batteries concentrating their fire upon it, this fort — called by its defend- 
ers Fort Stevens — soon became as silent, although still occupied, as the 
other : but not until its flag staff had been twice cut off, and a heavy 
explosion, thought at the time to be its magazine, had taken place within 
its walls from the excellent practice of our artillery 

It was during the artillery fight between our batteries and this fort that 
one of the Union officers made himself most unenviably conspicuous by 
riding daringly and defiantly into the very face of the enemy Mounted 
on a large white horse and wearing a broad-rimmed white or light 
colored hat, but without coat or vest, he galloped off in easy "cow 
boy " style towards the fort. Rebel minies warned him back, almost as 
soon as he started ; but unheedingly he rode on, not even quickening the 
pace of his steed, straight toward the smoke-wreathed mouths of the 
enemy's guns. It was thought at first that he was the bearer of some 
message from General Butler to the commander of the fort, perhaps 
demanding its surrender ; but as he displayed no flag of truce, except 
that his white horse and hat might be acknowledged as such, this idea of 
his purpose soon gave way to one of intense curiosity as to what it 
might be. After approaching to within a few yards of the fort, he veers 
off to the left, his horse now being urged onward both by the sting of 
his fearless rider's spurs and of bullets from rebel sharpshooters in the 
fort and in the trees beyond, and taking a circuitous course between that 
and the fort just captured, rides around the latter and back into the 
Union lines none the worse, but all the better for the entertainment he 
had given the many lookers-on in both armies, for it evidently had 
sobered him off a little. The horse, the only one of the two to be either 
pitied or praised, was severely injured and lamed, when near the fort, bv 
a bullet in the shoulder; but succeeded, apparently by great effort, tor 
one of his legs was almost useless, in bringing his master safely out of 
the danger so foolishly incurred. Some have said that the rider was a 
staff officer, acting sober-minded and under orders : but it is not easy to 
be thus convinced, lor there was neither sense nor service in the 

Ae:c Hampshire Volunteers. 181 

About noon the lone cold rain storm broke and scattered in fugitive 
clouds, and soon the sun shone out again clear and hot, much more 
needed and less dreaded by the tired, water-soaked soldiers than when he 
disappeared three da} T s before. The soldier, as well as the sailor, has 
reason sometimes to thank God that he can see 

• • The glorious lamp of heaven, the radiant sun" 

once more and feel his genial ravs. 

It was this afternoon, after the firing had subsided to now and then a 
crack from sharpshooters on either side, that Jefferson Davis, who had 
come down from Richmond to consult with General Beauregard, suppos- 
ing his forces still held the advance line of defense, came near walking 
into our lines. Had the fact been then known, our pickets could have 
easily brought him in and introduced him to General Butler, who would 
undoubtedlv have gladly given him safe passport back to — Washington. 

It had been a severe day for the regiment. From light till night it had 
been facing and fighting the enemy, without chance to eat, drink, or 
rest; while its loss had been one killed and ten or twelve wounded, one 
mortally and one dying soon after.* 

Under date of Mav 15, we find the following written in one of the diaries 
before us : '• Sweet dav of rest to some but not to us" ; and from another : 
"Last night the enemv tried to drive us back, but in vain — shells fell 
thickly around us'": while from a third we read: "Not much doing; 
skirmishing going on all day " These extracts, taken together, need but 
little explanation to give the reader a good idea of the situation. 
Although there was but little done, compared with the three preceding 
days, it was far different from the quiet Sabbath rest of home ; and the 
attack of the night before, followed up by the constant activity of the 
opposing skirmish lines through the day, were premonitory vibrations of 
the coming earthquake shock that rendered vigilance too rigid and exact- 
ing to allow that relaxation of nerve, without which mere muscular 
inertia is like hanging up the bent bow. that it may swifter send the 
arrow when it is again used. 

There was no attack or advance made or attempted on either side. It 
was the lull before the storm. Smith and Gillmore, fearing it, suggested 
to General Butler, it is said, the propriety of entrenching ; but were 
given to understand that hearts and not spades were trumps in the Army 
of the James. When, a few hours later, he saw so many brave hearts 
left to be covered up by the rebel spades, he doubtless thought differ- 
ently The officers and men of the regiments, receiving no orders but 
thinking it prudent to throw up some means of defense, went to work, 
where they could, and built up a kind of breastwork of old logs and 
poles, which served them a good purpose the next day 

* See table of losses. 


Drvry's Bluff and Port Walthall. 

Butler's army was now resting upon dangerous ground. Beauregard, 
one of the ablest of the Confederate generals, had arrived upon the field 
early on the morning of the 14th, and a few hours later Jeff. Davis 
himself was there, holding consultation with him. Their forces were 
gathering from all directions, and concentrating upon Butler's front, with 
a well defined purpose of turning one or both of his flanks, cutting him 
from his base and destroying his army How dangerously near thev 
came to doing it is now well known history 

A little past midnight on the morning of the 16th of May orders came 
from brigade headquarters to Captain Barker to tear down the telegraph 
wire along the turnpike and stretch it. a little less than knee high, about 
eighty paces in front of the regiment. This order was at once given to 
Lieutenant Bartlett, and selecting three agile young men from his com- 
pany, one of whom was John D. Sherburne, of Company F, to assist him, 
the telegraph poles were climbed and wire enough detached to stretch 
two lines instead of one, which was accordingly done, the second line 
about half between the first and the line of battle. The ground in front 
had been cleared a year or two before, so that while the stumps made 
good posts to securely fasten the wire, the thick growth of sprouts com- 
pletely hid it from sight. Although protected by only a low line of logs 
and sticks, such as could be easily gathered and thrown up scarcely high 
enough to cover the legs, yet, with this double line of wire within close 
musket range in their front, the Twelfth alone, with flanks secure, could 
have withstood a good portion of the rebel force. It was the only time 
that the regiment ever fought the enemy at an advantage of either works 
or position, and never before did it inflict so great a punishment at so 
little cost. 

Three or four hours later, but before the light of day had scarcely 
penetrated the dense fog, that had intensified the darkness of the night, 
there was a screech and a roll of musketry on our right and centre, and 
soon our pickets came running in, closely followed by the flash-marked 
lines of the enemy in rapid pursuit, hoping evidently to attack our main 
line before fully prepared to receive them. At the same time their 
artillery opened upon our lines with deadly effect, showing that they had 
the exact range of our position and were ready for action the day before. 

^Yezc Hampshire Volunteers. 183 

The men jumped to arms, half awake and half dreaming, hardly hav- 
ing time to fully realize the situation before the rebel infantry burst out of 
the fog upon them. 

The pickets from the Twelfth, in command of Lieutenant Emery, of 
Company F, not knowing that the wire had been put up between them 
and the regiment, had a rough but amusing experience in running 
against and tumbling over two lines of it in their hasty retreat. So 
quickly and unexpectedly did they go down, upon striking the first wire, 
that some thought they had been shot, and all had their legs more or less 
severely scraped and bruised. 

While the attack is made, almost at the same time, along the whole 
line, its chief weight falls upon the Eighteenth Corps, forming the right 
wing and holding the ground between the turnpike and the river Gen- 
eral Heckman's brigade on the extreme right is soon driven back and he 
with many of his men captured. The enemy now concentrates upon our 
centre, and the storm of battle beats upon Wistar's and Burnham's bri- 
gades on the right and left of the turnpike with redoubled fury Charge 
after charge was made, first on one brigade and then on the other But 
lour Xew Hampshire regiments, with as many more from New York and 
Connecticut, were there ; while on or near the turnpike were aligned 
four twenty-pound Parrott guns and two or more ten-pound Napoleon 
pieces of Ashbv s and Belger's batteries, presenting a dangerous front. 

This strong array of infantry and artillery, protected by the hidden line 
of telegraph wire, within easy range of the ranks of musketry, was a lit- 
tle too formidable even for a triple number of fiery Southerners ; and 
their efforts to break or drive back the Yankees at this point were all in 

General Ransom, the Confederate commander on the field, seeing his 
troops as often repulsed as they charged, and attributing the chief cause 
to our artillery — knowing nothing of the more potent but silent line of 
wire in the bushes — -ordered that the guns upon the turnpike be silenced 
by sharpshooters, and if possible captured. This made the position of 
Companies C and G, on the left of the regiment, not only uncomfortably 
warm, but, for a while at least, dangerously hot ; and there was a sharp 
contest for the guns in which the battery was getting the worst of it, the 
gunners being nearly all killed or wounded, and the only officer left 
obliged to tall back and leave his guns, already silent, within a few yards 
of the enemy Seeing this, Captain Bedee of Company G, and Lieuten- 
ant Sanders, in command of Company C, followed by eight or ten men 
as brave and determined as themselves, rushed forward, manned and 
served some of the guns so promptly and efficiently that the charging 
rebel force that had so nearly captured them, was driven back, and the 
battery, for the time being, saved. 

Before this, however, there had been two charges upon our brigade, 
both of which the Twelfth had its full share of work in repulsing. But 

184 History of the Tzcclfth Regiment 

the best and the most unyielding and destructive line of battle that the 
rebel forces had to meet that day was the telegraph wire, and had it been 
stretched in front of Heckman's brigade as it was in front of Wistar's 
the result might have been a Union victory As before stated, the 
Twelfth was protected bv a double line of this wire ; and with a few logs 
behind which the men, bv kneeling down, could load and fire without 
much exposure, their position was secure against many times their num- 
ber attacking them in front. When, therefore, after having easily 
repulsed the enemy, the order came to retreat, it was reluctantly obeyed 
with many exclamations of surprise and dissatisfaction. 

It was the only time that the regiment was unwilling to be relieved from 
the front line, either in the field or the trenches ; but this was so greatly in 
contrast with anv battle experience they ever had before that they actu- 
ally enjoyed the fun more than they feared the danger; and, besides, it 
seemed too bad to abandon the field to the foe when, so far as could be 
observed, everything on that part of the field warranted an advance rather 
than a retreat. Notwithstanding the advantage gained bv the enemy 
on the extreme right, by the capture of General Heck man and a part of 
his brigade, it would seem that if the order to fall back was not premature, 
the continuation of that retrograde movement to the relinquishment of all 
that had been gained bv five days of continuous fighting, and until the 
Army of the James was completely penned in and "bottled up," was, to 
sav the least, ill-advised. That there was scarcely an attempt made in 
anv considerable force to follow up our retreat is explained bv the report 
of General Ransom, who, under General Beauregard, had the immediate 
command of the rebel forces engaged. From this report we learn that a 
vigorous advance, instead of disgraceful retreat by our army would prob- 
ably have changed the result of the conflict. 

After falling back through a narrow strip of woods and across an open 
field, the artillery of the division was aligned on a ridge running parallel 
with the belt of woods, and the Twelfth and some of the other regiments 
of the brigade ordered to lie clown just in front of the guns. Soon the 
rebel skirmishers were seen slowly and cautiously advancing. Waiting 
until a portion of their line had reached the edge of the woods, from the 
cover of which they did not seem inclined to show themselves, the 
officer in command of the batteries gave the order: Half-second fuse: 
fire; and a deafening roar, a blast of hot air, and a " swish" of shells 
just above our heads, and we laugh to watch the effect of their bursting 
upon the Johnnies, jumping, dodging, and running among the trees. 
This was the last seen by us of the gray uniforms that day, although we 
remained in position there for several hours : and near night marched 
back to our old camp ground again. The men were so tired and worn 
down from want of rest and sleep that some were unable to march alter 
the excitement of the battle was over, and had to be carried back in 

JVVzi 1 Hampshire Volunteers. 185 

ambulances : one officer who was unable to walk, but disdaining to take 
a sick man's conveyance, rode back to camp on one of the cannon. 

General Beauregard, finding that his adversary was either too weak to 
do, or too timid to dare — both equally ineffectual in war — determined to 
follow up his advantage: and, being reinforced by General Whiting's 
command that had failed to come up from Petersburg in time for the bat- 
tle, he resolved to attack General Butler again before he could have time 
to strengthen his entrenchments. It was now, per force of necessity, that 
spades were trump and hearts obliged to sadly follozv suit. For two 
davs and one night the men — first altogether, and then by short reliefs — 
were incessantly at work throwing up a strong line of breastworks with 
redans and bastions, except when obliged to drop the spade and grab the 
musket to defend themselves against the attacks of the enemy They 
worked with their equipments on and their guns close at hand, ready to 
take and fall into line at a moment's warning. The Twelfth was called out 
to resist attacks three or four times : and once, during the night of the 
19th, it was double-quicked about half a mile toward the right to help 
repulse what seemed a determined attempt of the enemy to break through 
that part of the line. 

The next day the regiment moved camp to its proper place in the line 
of works, which were soon completed. There was some fighting on the 
right, however, before night, the enemy reluctantly giving up their 
attempts to break through. 

Of the 2 1st the reader may learn from the following entry in the 
author's diary : " The bovs resting in camp, and they need it badly Last 
night was the first we have been allowed to sleep all night for three 
weeks or more." It had, indeed, been a hard campaign, considering the 
time and territory occupied and the little or nothing accomplished. 

The following account of the engagements at Urury's Bluff is from 
letters of Colonel Barker, then captain in command of the regiment, 
written on the field, the 15th, and the day after the retreat : 

Close under cover of a rebel earthwork which we captured yesterday does 
the Twelfth New Hampshire hold position this morning. Early yesterday our 
lines were ordered to advance and take the rebel works, just through a belt of 
woods on our front. As I advanced my regiment through to near the edge of 
the woods there loomed up before us about three or four hundred yards from the 
opening a small fort or redan, on which floated a rebel flag, and from the 
embrasures of which belched forth intended death and destruction for us; but we 
were so near, and the shooting so high that without halt or hesitation we moved 
on over the glacis, which, by the way, was so obstructed by fallen trees that our 
movement was necessarily very slow. Through fear of capture the rebels beat 
a hasty retreat, leaving this work to us; but about seven hundred yards beyond, 
nom another fort with embrasures for six guns, thev opened fire upon us. We 
came to a halt in position, where, Iving, we were slightly protected from their 
ni 'e- Let me give you an idea of the position : 

1 86 

History of the Twelfth Regiment 



"Rebel works 

Rebel works 

A rti | 11 

13th X. H. 10th X. H. 118th NY. 8th Conn. 

Burnhani's' Brigade. 
Brooks's Division. 



12th N.H. 11th Conn. Jil X. H. 148th VY. 
Wistar s Brigade. 

Welt/el's ] )i\ Uinn. 

You will observe that Wistar's brigade (ours) is at the right of the Richmond 
and Petersburg turnpike, left resting on it; on the left is Burnham's brigade of 
Brooks's division, right resting on the pike. In front of the Twelfth you will 
observe the fort we captured, from which our sharpshooters pick off the gunners 
from the fort beyond. You will also notice that Brooks occupies the rebel rifle- 
pits, which, I can assure you, are very formidable. The short marks indicate our 
battery, four twenty-pound Parrott, four ten-pound brass pieces, and two small 
guns all trained on the rebel fort. [This, as will be seen, refers to the 14th.] 

During a portion of the day the rebs poured a terrific fire upon us. but very 
soon our sharpshooters got in their work and silenced most of the guns in the 
fort by picking off the gunners. During the day we shot away their colors sev- 
eral times and blew up what some thought was their magazine, but this could 
not have been. 

It is quite amusing to see how jolly the boys are under fire. One ot the sharp- 
shooters told me that he fired one hundred and twenty rounds of ammunition and 
took aim every time. 

[The following refers to the 16th:] 

As promised in my last letter, I will in this give you the particulars of yester- 
cku's fight. As I wrote you, but little else than picket firing was carried on 
during the night; but at a very early hour in the morning, before light, the rebels 
opened several pieces of artillery upon us, and the fact that nearly everv shell 
burst among and about our guns and artillery horses was good evidence that their 
gunners were experts, and knew how to get range, even in the dark. The 
fourth or fifth shot blew up one of our caissons, killing several men and horses, 
and producing the most intense excitement. For a long time we were idle, not 
knowing where to direct our fire. The rebs were approaching under cover of 
the darkness, and we were quite ignorant of their position. As soon as the day 
began to dawn and the fog, which was very dense, began to lift, we discovered 
the rebel sharpshooters, less than a hundred wards away, picking off our gunners 
and battery horses. I immediately directed Company G (Captain Bedee) and 
Company C (Lieutenant Sanders) to engage those gentlemen, and drop every man 
that showed his head above the earthworks, a little to our left, to which they had 
advanced and taken shelter behind. I cautioned the men to waste no ammuni- 
tion, but take deliberate aim at every shot. After one of the brass pieces at our 

S\ rzi' Hampshire Volunteers. 187 

left had been abandoned by its officers and men, Captain Bedee with a few of 
his men worked it on their own hook, delivering to the Johnnies charge after 
charge. While this was going on I observed to our right, and just in front of 
the Eleventh Connecticut, a rebel regiment advancing; between the two was a 
thick growth of high bushes, so that within fifty yards neither regiment could 
see the other. I ordered the right wing of my regiment to open an oblique fire 
upon them, and at the same time a regiment appeared at our left upon which I 
opened fire with my left wing. Both regiments were so near that I could easily 
count the stars upon their battle-flags. The Eleventh Connecticut on learning 
of the presence of a regiment ot the enemy on their front, opened so hot a fire 
upon them that thev broke and ran, and while retreating the slaughter we made 
among them was terrible. 

After all the battery horses had been killed, I sent word to General Wistar 
and suggested that some means be provided to take the guns to the rear While 
awaiting his orders I took a part of one company and dragged one of the Parrott 
guns on to the turnpike, readv to be taken awav. 

The men were greatlv disappointed at having the order for retreat announced, 
for everyone felt confident of our ability to hold the position. 1 called the regi- 
ment to attention, faced them about, but, reluctant to give up the position, faced 
them again to the front, and for a moment hesitated, hoping that the order might 
be countermanded ; finding the lines to our left retreating, I concluded there was 
no alternative for me but to obey orders. I again faced the men about and 
retreated in as fine order, almost, as if on parade; and from the fact that very 
little damage was done to us while retreating. I was more than ever convinced 
that we had most essentially crippled the enemy. During the morning engage- 
ment mv regiment expended nearly sixty rounds of ammunition per man, and to 
very excellent advantage. Our loss was only one killed, nineteen wounded, and 
three missing. After the first retreat we manoeuvred about until nearly night, 
when, for some reason, we returned to camp. 

The Twelfth New Hampshire has been in the front line of battle for five days 
without being once relieved, and every day under fire, losing two killed, twenty- 
nine wounded, and three missing. 

W e have been in sight of and within eight miles of Richmond, and fought a 
battle, in which, it seems to me. the enemy suffered the greater loss — three to 

Comparative quietness prevailed for the next few days after the enemy s 
failure to break through our lines. The Army of the James was safe but 
powerless, for it could no more get out of the pen into which it had been 
driven, than the rebel forces could get in. About this time came news 
from the Army of the Potomac that Lee was retreating across the North 
Anna, and then it was hurrah for Grant, and a groan for Butler 
Although the rank, and file of an army are supposed to obey all orders 
and question none, to do everything and know nothing, or as poetically 

'■Theirs not to question why. 
Theirs but to do and die." 

i8S History of the Twelfth Regiment 

Yet with the education and intelligence of the average Union volunteer, 
it did not take long- for a northern army to understand final results, if 
the}' did not always comprehend the wisdom of original designs. 

It was known to the soldiers then, as well as afterward, that Butler's 
campaign was a sad failure ; but the reasons why were not so well under- 
stood. Those in the army and out naturally attributed the cause of the 
defeat of the Army of the James, from which so much had been expected, 
to the inability of its commander, and such has been the popular belief 
even to the present day But the history of that campaign, when care- 
fully read and considered, will do much to greatly modify, if not entirely 
reverse, what has so long stood as the public verdict. 

It now appears from the official records, lately published, that Butler 
had enemies inside, as well as outside his intrenchments, to fight against : 
and that his two corps commanders, Smith and Gillmore, were quite as 
much, if not more, interested to defeat him, as the enemy 

These generals, instead of showing themselves the true and trusted 
right and left hand advisers and supporters of their chief, as was all the 
more needful and expected, from his own inexperience in the field, seemed 
to take pleasure in seeing him thwarted and deteated in his plans, even 
though the enemy would be greatly benefited thereby. This, upon the 
authority of General Grant, seems to be especially true of General Smith, 
who, " whilst a very able officer, is obstinate, and likely to condemn 
whatever is not suggested by himself," as written by Grant himself to 
General Halleck, concerning the inefficiency of the Army of the James, 
arising from the very troubles between Butler and his commanders, here 
referred to. He was afterward sent home in disgrace bv General Grant, 
upon unmistakable evidence of treachery and falsehood, which too plainly 
showed the character of the man. 

If Butler's own account of his campaign is true, there was hardly an 
important order that he gave to either of his corps commanders while they 
remained with him that was executed promptly and vigorously as it might 
and should have been. But however this may be, there are few who 
fought in the battle of Drurv's Bluff", and have taken pains to inform them- 
selves concerning it since, but will agree with the following extract from 
General Heckman's account of that battle and comments upon the result: 

The press and the histories of the war blame Butler with the severest language, 
and even now the nation at large call him " Bottled-up-Butler." But the opinions 
of intelligent officers who fought in the campaign, and who judged it impartially 
from a military point of view, as well as the facts, will rather lav the fault at the 
door of his corps commanders, Generals Gillmore and Smith. They did not seem 
to comprehend what was to be done, and then failed to cooperate in what at- 
tempts thev did make. 

But with all this and much more that might be written in excuse for 
Butler and his futile efforts south of the James, the fact still remains that 

J\~<r:i' Hampshire Volunteers. 189 

he was by no means blameless. Knowing, as he did, the prejudice exist- 
ing among nearlv all the regular army officers against civilian volunteers 
holding important commands, and how sensitively adverse they were to 
beino- made subordinate thereto, he could not otherwise than have plainly 
seen and sorely felt afterward, as he ought to have known at the time, 
that some of his acts and words toward his two highest officers were, to 
say the least, very injudicious. 

Most prominent and damaging to himself of all, was his not veiy re- 
spectful and very unwise reply by letter to some written suggestions sub- 
mitted bv them for his consideration on the night after the engagement at 
Swift Creek. In the absence of any plan of operations, that they claimed 
to know of, •' further than to cut the Petersburg and Richmond railroad," 
thev had suggested to Butler the propriety of crossing the Appomatox 
river, on the next day, and cutting all the roads that came into Peters- 
burg on that side, as the quickest and easiest way of capturing the city 
itself. This, though respectfully recommended over their joint official 
signatures, instead of being kindly and gratefully received, was haugh- 
tily rejected and ignored : and thev received a sting of insult as well as 
injury, bv being accused, in the same letter, of ••vacillation" and "in- 
firmity of purpose." 

In the rejoinders that both Smith and Gillmore made to this almost abu- 
sive reply to their well meant suggestions, the latter seems to take no 
offense, but the former, after referring at some length to the facts and 
situation, uses the following significant language : 

I have made this long explanation for peculiar and private reasons, and can 
only say in conclusion, that as I have never before been accused of infirmity of 
purpose, I shall not take the charge as seriously affecting my military reputation. 

Here was the keen edge of a highly tempered blade dangerously 
touched. It would have been better for General Butler to have turned it 
against the foe instead of himself. He had unwittingly provoked the an- 
ger of one who could neither forget nor forgive. After this he tried both 
coaxing and threatening, but to no purpose, for Smith did about as he 
pleased. Butler soon saw his mistake, and must have bitterly deplored 
it, for none could better realize than he, that it not only made an enemy 
of his ablest general whose friendship he so badly needed, and lost to him 
Petersburg, when almost within his grasp, but it was the beginning of 
that unfortunate and humiliating end, first of his campaign, that promised 
so much and effected so little, and finally of himself as military com- 

None, we think, conversant with General Butler's military history of 
1864, w iH seriously question the truth of the assertion, that while his fail- 
ure at Fort Fisher was the ostensible occasion, it was by no means the 
chief reason ot his removal from command in the field and retirement to 

190 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

private life. The real cause lay much further back, and General Smith, 
as it appears, had no little to do in preestablishing it. 

So much has been written in reference to General Butler and his corps 
commanders that the readers of this history — especially the survivors of 
the Twelfth and the descendants of them and their dead comrades — may 
know, or take pains to more fullv inform themselves, why the Army of 
the James, numbering over thirty thousand men, did so little toward put- 
ting down the Great Rebellion of 1861. 

While, as we have seen, Butler was not all to blame, as the rank and 
file and most of the officers of his army (ignorantly believing what his next 
ranking generals were only too glad to have them) used to think, vet it 
must be admitted that he was not " the right man in the right place," and 
that Grant himself was some to blame for ever having put him there with 
such a man as General Smith. 

In explanation and verification of the author's statements in relation to 
the battle of Drury's Bluff, and especially to those relating to the effect- 
iveness of the telegraph wire as a line of defense, and the struggle for the 
guns upon the turnpike, the following extracts and quotations from official 
reports of generals and commanding officers upon both sides, will be 
found both serviceable and interesting. As bearing upon the precarious 
situation of Butler's army, alluded to at the commencement of this chap- 
ter, is the following from General Smith : * 

On the morning of the 15th, my position gave cause for anxietv On mv right, 
extending to the river and up to Drury's Bluff, was an open, undulating country 
more than a mile in width, and offering every facility for the movement of a col- 
umn on our right and rear. This was covered by one hundred and fifty mounted 
men of the colored cavalry. Mv troops were all in one thin line, without re- 
serves. * * * * 

On reporting mv weak and exposed condition to General Butler, I was informed 
that three regiments were at the Half- Way House which could be used as a re- 

During the day 1 had instructed Generals Brooks and Weitzel to gather tele- 
graph wire from the turnpike road, and stretch it among the stumps in their 

Here reference is made to a foot-note, which gives the origin oi the 
wire-line idea and the reason, as given by Smith, why it was not stretched 
in front of Heckman's brigade. As there has been much dispute about 
both of these subjects, the note is here given in full : 

In 1883 General Butler claimed the credit for the use of the wire, and 
intimated that in Heckman's case his order in reference to it was not carried out. 
The fact is, there was not wire enough to go round. Brooks and one brigade ot 
Weitzel were so near the enemv that I was fearful thev might be run over 
Ileckman was not in such danger of a sudden rush, and so the wire was used in 
the direct front in contact with the enemv 

' C 'iitmy Company's War Books, Vol. IV pa-;v lilo. 

^.Vczl' Hampshire Volunteers. 191 

General Butler in his autobiography ridicules the lack of wire state- 
ment and remarks: " How that can be I do not understand, for there 
was nine miles of wire to be had for the taking and the time in which to 
do it was more than ample." 

He therefore expresses his surprise and regret that Heckman's front, 
"where there was almost a necessity for a double line of wire," was left 
entirely exposed, and says it was " for some reason never yet satisfac- 
torily explained." 

But whatever the reason, accidental or intentional — and it sometimes 
seems that it must have been the latter — one thing is certain, that there 
was no lack of wire when it was procured for one regiment: and from 
the fact that none had then been taken down near where the line crossed 
the turnpike, it mav reasonably be inferred that the Twelfth was the first 
regiment to use it. 

But who first thought of the idea is quite as much a mystery as why 
Heckman did not have the benefit of it. General Butler saws that Gen- 
eral Smith ordered it, "at the suggestion of General Weitzel," and 
Weitzel savs he ordered it •" at the suggestion <>t the major-general com- 
manding the corps," who was General Smith ; and Smith, as we have 
seen, while he corroborates Weitzel — making two to one against Butler 
— does not deny but some one suggested it to him, although he leaves it 
to be understood that he was the originator ; and, although there have 
been many claimants tor the honor, including all grades of rank from 
major-general to a private, the weight of evidence, so far as it is compe- 
tent or worth considering, is heavily in favor of General Smith, into 
whose prolific mind the happy thought probably first entered. 

But whoever it was that first thought of making a Yankee skirmish 
line out of a telegraph wire, the line, wherever formed, proved a most 
effective one. Generals Brooks and Weitzel reported, savs their corps 
commander, '-that not a man was driven from their lines in front, and 
that the enemy, in falling over the telegraph wire, were slaughtered like 

General Weitzel, after referring in his report of Mav 22 to the crush- 
ing of Heckman's brigade, continues : 

The other seven regiments of my line did not move until after they had twice 
repulsed the enemv with terrible slaughter — they being piled in heaps over the 
telegraph wire — when we were ordered back. 

In his supplemental-}- report of the 29th he adds : 

I have just received full files of Richmond papers, from the 16th to the 28th. 
the force that attacked my division was six brigades of infantry, one unattached 
regiment of infantry, and three batteries of artillery, all under the command of 
Major-General Ransom. His entire loss was near three thousand by official lists. 
-I hey have about five hundred of my own men prisoners. General Heckman, 
who was captured in the fight, sends word that Gillmore could easily have gone 

19- History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

in. They speak of the wire as a devilish contrivance, which none but a Yankee 
could devise. 

To oppose this force of six brigades and one regiment General Weitzel 
had but two brigades and three regiments, making about two to one 
against him, assuming that the brigades and regiments were about the 
same size, but it is probable that the disproportion in men and muskets 
was not so great. 

Captain Ashby, commanding Battery E, Third Xew York Artillery, 
whose four twenty-pound Parrott guns were planted on the turnpike 
reports that — 

Shortly after resuming my position on Monday morning, the 16th, the enemy 
opened upon me with a heavy fire of artillery I immediately replied with all 
mv guns. Under cover of this fire and a heavy fog, a large force of the enemy 
advanced up the road and charged on the battery. At the same time their 
artillery ceased firing, and changing the direction of my pieces, I ordered them 
to be charged with canister, which was poured into the columns of the enemy 
As they advanced the first charge was repulsed, but thev only retired behind the 
line of breastworks, from which they poured continuous volleys of musketry. 
The fog and smoke were so dense that they could not be seen, and their exact 
position was doubtful. Yery soon they charged again. As long as the canister 
held out I used it, and when it gave out ordered percussion shells to be used. 
At this time I was struck in the head by part of a case-shot and carried to the 
rear. * * * * Only one gun was saved. 

[This was the gun that was hauled to the rear by the men of the 

Col. R. H. Keeble, commanding the Seventeenth and Twenty-third 
Tennessee regiments, in his report to Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson, brigade 
commander, refers to the capturing of the guns on the turnpike, just to 
the left of the Twelfth, and the telegraph wire, as follows : 

When the battle on the 16th commenced, mv orders from General Johnson 
were to move down the turnpike by the left flank until I reached the outer line oi 
fortifications, when I would halt, front, and move forward in connection with 
General Ransom's division. Long before I reached the outer line of intrench- 
ments I discovered that the enemy were still occupying our works with a battery 
of seven pieces (Parrott guns) planted in the centre of the turnpike, a little 
beyond the fortifications. 

We, how'evcr, continued to move forward under a perfect shower ot grape, 
canister, and minie-balls, which swept up the turnpike. Reaching the trenches, 
a line was immediately formed, confronting the enemy, and here commenced anil 
raged for two hours, or two and a half, one of the most desperate actions in 
which I have ever been engaged. The enemy were in strong force under our 
trenches, and his battery, above alluded to, played upon us most furiously 

He here claims for his men the chief credit for " silencing and captur- 
ing their (our) battery of seven pieces, one of which was brought to the 
rear by a detail from my own regiment." 

^Yezc Hampshire Volunteers. 103 

While it is evident that his claims are somewhat too extravagant to be 
readily granted, as shown by his count of the guns captured and his own 
reference to a counter claim of "some other brigade that passed over the 
o-round" ( r), still it is probable, from time and incidents referred to, that 
his command of Tennesseeans — than whom no better marksman could 
have been found in the whole rebel army upon the field — did more, by 
picking off the gunners with their brave and persistent close-ground skir- 
mishers, toward capturing the battery referred to, than Hoke's whole 
division of four brigades, one regiment, and three batteries, had or could 
have done by charging upon our supporting lines. 

Colonel Keeble, continuing his report, says : 

The enemy, to impede our progress and advance upon them, had obstructed 
the road with telegraph wire in order to trip up the men. The trick (emphati- 
cally a Yankee one) was, however, soon discovered and surmounted. While the 
fire was thickest and hottest, some stragglers from another command, who had 
sought refuge in a ditch at our rear, raised a shirt in lieu of a white flag. This 
gave the enemy great encouragement, but on being discovered by the men of my 
regiment, everv one called out: >v Tear it dozen, tear it dozen!" 

Lieutenant Waggoner, of mv regiment, immediately rushed to the recreant and 
pulled it down, being wounded in the attempt. 

It will be noticed that he refers to his command as a " regiment," in- 
stead of a battalion, and speaks of " obstructing the road " with the wire, 
thinking, evidently, when he wrote, that the wire had only been stretched 
in front of the batteries to protect them from being captured by a charge. 

The signal of surrender that he refers to explains, if he is correct, why it 
was raised, and gives a far different reason than that supposed by some 
of the Union troops who saw it. It had long been believed by them that 
it was but a ruse of the rebels, attempting, as they had done before, to 
gain by strategem what thev could not easily accomplish by honorable 

But the most amusing part of the colonel's report — as it must appear 
to every ex-Federal soldier then and there present — is the quick and 
easy way his men seem to have " discovered and surmounted" the Yan- 
kee wire trick to trip them up. That they soon discovered and at the 
same instant surmounted it — giving to the latter word its derivative 
meaning — will not be seriously questioned; for, although something, in 
effect, like a mountain in their way, they very quickly went over and 
about their length beyond it. 

They " surmounted " this novel trick of war about as successfully as a 
green boy rider would the old trick of a vicious broncho that had learned 
to "buck" and kick at the same time — mount upon the animal's back, 
and go over his head in one time and two motions. 

Radically defined, then, according to its compound derivation from the 
Latin original, the word surmounted was very aptlv applied ; but quite a 

194 Hist or x of the Twelfth Regiment 

different meaning was clearly intended, though not so truthful, for the 
wire was in no place cut, broken, or passed for any distance until after 
our troops had fallen back. 

Of the brave and timely action of Captain Bedee and Lieutenant San- 
ders, and some of the men of Companies C and G, in manning one of 
the deserted guns on the turnpike that belonged to Belger's battery, and 
in trying to save one of the heavier twentv-pounders of Ashby's battery. 
General Weitzel, commanding the division, takes notice in his report by 
copying from General Wistar s, as follows : 

Capt. Edwin E. Bedee and Lieut. James \V Sanders, both of the Twelfth New 
Hampshire Volunteers, with some men from the same regiment, for some time 
loaded and fired one of the guns abandoned by Batten F, First Rhode Island 
Artillery. They report one of the officers of the batter}- as lying concealed in a 
ditch during the time. The same officers limbered up a twenty-pound Parrott gun 
of Ashbv's battery, deserted by its gunners, and moved it by hand some distance 
to the rear on the turnpike, where they turned it over to some men of the battery 
with instructions to take it to the rear, which was neglected, and the piece aban- 
doned without spiking. Captain Barker, commanding the Twelfth New Hamp- 
shire Volunteers, had previously thrown forward sharpshooters, who dispersed 
and drove away the enemy's sharpshooters who attacked these guns. 

In a letter published in the " Boston Record,'" Captain Barker, in refer- 
ring to this laudable effort of some of his officers and men to have artillery 
practice on the field of battle, relates the following amusing incident and 
the official notice of the valiant act to which it relates : 

While directing the management of one of the abandoned field-pieces, Cap- 
tain Bedee, unfamiliar with that branch of the service and anxious to have it 
worked as rapidly as possible, was greatly surprised and not a little annoyed at 
its recoiling so far every time it was fired ; and, with an expression more em- 
phatic than pious, ordered it placed against a stump to prevent it from backing 
out of the fight. He was reminded by one of his men, who knew more about 
the science of gunnery than he did, that if he wanted to disable the gun, that 
would be about the quickest way to do it. 

For their distinguished services at the battery on that dav, both Captain Bedee 
and Lieutenant Sanders were complimented in general orders. 

Another incident mentioned in the same letter and referring to the 
same officer we will here give. 

While the regiment was falling back from the front line, that it had so 
easily held. General Butler, with his full staff" and several orderlies, came 
riding along, and, either for the joke of it or to make a show of his self- 
composure, spoke to the men and said : " Oh. don't be frightened; don"t 
be frightened, boys ! '" 

Without waiting to hear any more which the general was seemingly 
intending to say, Captain Bedee, who had already heard enough of that 

3Vri' Hampshire Volunteers. 195 

kind of talk, in the ill-tempered mood that he was in, for retreating, as he 
believed, without cause, quickly replied : 

"Who in h — 1, sir, is frightened? I don't know of anybody, unless 
it's some of our commanding generals." 

" What are you falling back for, then?" 

" Under orders, sir. of course ; and if you did not give them, you had 
better find out who did." 

General Butler probablv thought so, too, for he put spurs to his horse 
and rode on. 

Supplementary to the letter above referred to, which would be given 
here in full but for repetition — its most essential part having been already 
written — we find these lines : 

Recent conversation with a Confederate officer who participated in the charge 
on our front at the battle of Drurv's Bluff, fully corroborates my estimate of the 
situation, and his admission as to the damage inflicted to their charging column 
even exceeds mv own conclusions; but, he added, " We got even with you at 
Cold Harbor." 

On the 26th of May occurred the wasp-nest affair at Port Walthall. 
General Wistar's brigade was called up about 3 o'clock in the morning, 
and started out to make a reconnoissance in force toward Petersburg, the 
real object of which, as supposed, was to ascertain the position and 
strength of the enemv in that direction. General Butler, as it seems, hav- 
ing decided to make one more effort to capture that place. Crossing a 
branch of the Appomatox, a skirmish line was sent out, and the Twelfth 
advanced in line of battle. Captain Barker thinking it time enough to halt 
and load when the skirmish line should find the enemy While thus 
moving carelessly forward there came, all at once and with startling 
suddenness, a shower of hissing minie-balls, followed by the roar of 
musketry. Company B, the right company of the regiment, had just 
reached the crest of a little hill, within plain view and close range of the 
enemy, when the volley struck them. Every man of the company went 
down, and all killed or wounded as then supposed by their commander, 
judging from the way the bullets pinged the air around his own head. 
Seeing that some of the men were beginning to get up, he ordered them 
to lie flat, and was just getting down himself when a German recruit by 
the name of Lindner, who was mortally wounded, exclaimed: "Oh! 
For God's sake, help me, Lieutenant!" That dying cry — once heard, 
never forgotten — pierced the heart of the officer, and for once he cared 
no more for rebel bullets than for drops of rain. To stand erect, where 
perhaps a hundred men or more were watching for the show of a head 
as a target for their rifles, was, to say the least, not a very enviable atti- 
tude to aspire to ; but with scarcely a thought or care for anything but 
the dying man, he jumps to his feet, and with the air hot around his head 
by friction trom flying lead, he starts for and reaches him untouched. 

196 History of the Tivelftli Regiment 

No sooner do the rebels see, as they plainly could, what the officer was 
doing, than their firing stopped almost as suddenly as it commenced: 
and the officer, after easing the position, and comforting, as best he could, 
the wounded men (another recruit by the name of Furguson being also 
dangerously wounded) went back over the brow of the hill, hallooed to 
Captain Barker, in command of the regiment, to send up the stretcher 
bearers, they having fallen back out of range at the first volley- It was 
five or ten minutes before they brought up the stretchers, upon which the 
suffering and helpless men were placed and borne away to an ambulance. 

During all this time, except when over the brow of the hill after the 
stretchers, the lieutenant was standing or walking about within speaking 
distance of the enemy : but not another shot was fired at him, who now 
laid down with his men and awaited the order, that soon came, to fall 
back. Knowing that the first sign of an}- movement would bring upon 
his men another shower of lead, he ordered them to imitate the crawfish 
in manner as well as direction of going, and crawl backward until over 
the crest of the hill and below the line of the enemy's fire. 

The question will naturally arise, where was the skirmish liner As it 
is not well for the historian to write more than he knows, however 
strongly, at times, he may be tempted, the answer must be, that he has 
never yet found out. It was then said that the regiment had run over it. 
while the men were hiding in the bushes ; but it is more probable that 
none was ever sent forward. The onlv casualties were the two before 
mentioned, and two or three more slightly wounded, all in Companv B. 
Had the waiting enemy not been so quick to act, but withheld his fire 
until other companies had come into range, the loss must have been 
many times greater Having found the enemy sooner than expected, the 
search then and there ended, and before dark the regiment was again 
back behind the breastworks. 

While the men of Company B, as well as the rest of the regiment, were 
lying flat on the ground upon the hill above referred to, a lone horseman 
was seen riding up a narrow ravine on the right and directly toward the 
position of the enemy He would have been quickly warned of his 
danger and motioned back by the observers, but they were powerless to 
do so. On he rode, seemingly unconscious of all danger, each step of 
his horse conveying him nearer to the head of the ravine, where he could 
not escape being seen and shot at by the vigilant foe but a short distance 
bevond. He was watched, of course, with constantly increasing fears 
for his safety as he advanced toward the danger line. A moment more 
and both rider and horse go down, just as two or three almost simulta- 
neous musket reports came from the rebel line. Both man and beast are 
supposed to be killed or severly wounded, but no — only one, and that 
the horse, has been disabled, for the rider, so quickly dismounted, is 
seen to rise to his feet, and after first looking at his horse and then 
toward the enemy, who could no longer see him. drew his revolver, put 

S\'ezr Hampshire Volunteers. 197 

an end to the suffering of his struggling mute companion, and with a sad 
o-ood bve, doubtless felt in his heart if not expressed bv his lips, turned 
back down the ravine, and was soon lost to view 

This little incident, while it may not seem to an old soldier worth the 
time and ink required to write it, is given here as but one of the many 
similar ones that might be related as interestingly illustrative of army 
life to those who then were but children, or had not been born. 

The camp of the Twelfth at this time was in a pleasant pine grove that 
so nicely shaded the men from the rays of the sun, that when, on the 
following day, orders came to pack up and move at once in heavy march- 
ing order, there was much wishing that war was something more than 
narrow chances and sudden changes. 

General Butler, having now failed to capture or assist in capturing 
Richmond, and feeling sore at his discomforture at Drury's Bluff decided 
to make another move against Petersburg, hoping by taking advantage of 
the departure of rebel troops that were being sent to reinforce Lee against 
Grant, he would capture the city and thus retrieve himself for all the public 
would naturally blame him for since he took command of the army 

But while he was diligently watching for his opportunity and studiously 
planning how best to take advantage of it, his rising hopes of effecting his 
ardently desired purpose were all nipped in the bud by Grant's unex- 
pected call for sixteen thousand of his best troops as will be seen in the 
following chapter 

It certainly did seem as if the very fates were against him. 


Cold Harbor. 

May 28, 1864, in compliance with orders received through General 
Halleck from Lieutenant-General Grant, the Eighteenth Corps marched 
to City Point, where, reinforced by Ames's and Devens's divisions of the 
Tenth Corps, it embarked the next morning for White House Landing, 
on the Pamunkey river, for the purpose of joining the Army of the 
Potomac, that was then crossing the Pamunkey near Hanovertown. 
The whole force consisted of sixteen thousand infantry, sixteen pieces of 
artillery, and a detachment of about one hundred cavalry, all under the 
command of the Eighteenth Corps commander, Gen. W F Smith. 

About 2 o'clock on the afternoon of the 27th the Twelfth Regiment 
broke camp and marched about four miles to Point of Rocks, where it 
crossed the Appomattox about dark, and arrived at City Point between 
9 and 10 o'clock that night. It rained hard during the night, and this, 
with deep mud and deeper darkness, made the march anything but 
pleasant, and the night's bivouac was even more disagreeable than the 

Early the next morning the regiment embarked on the transport 
steamer " G. A. Deveny," and soon the whole command was on its way 
down the James, bound for some place to the rank and file unknown. 
But speculation was of course rife, and conjectures plenty as to their desti- 
nation and the cause of their leaving. Some thought it meant a change 
of base for the whole army that had so signally failed to accomplish its 
mission, and that Bermuda Hundred and City Point were to be evacuated. 
Others thought that Washington was again threatened by another rebel 
raid, and that the Eighteenth Corps was on its way to the rescue; 
while others still guessed rightly and exclaimed, "Once more for the 
Army of the Potomac, boys ! We are going up to help Grant finish up 
the job with Lee." 

They little thought how worse than useless their efforts to help would 
prove, and that they, instead of Lee's forces, would be the ones to be 
finished u p .^ B ut among the things, much thought and talked about, was 
the wide f ftrence between what was expected and what had been 
effected since they were last afloat upon the same river, less than a 
month before. The one was up, and the other was down, in more senses 
hr , 

S\'czt' Hampshire Volunteers. iqq 

About 5 p. m. the little fleet of transports lay off Fortress Monroe, and, 
after an hour or two on the bay, rounded into the mouth of the York river 
During the night's voyage up the river the men slept on board the boat, 
as best they could, and the rising sun greeted them at West Point. One 
brigade under General Ames, convoved by one or two gun-boats com- 
manded by Captain Babcock of the United States Navy, had been sent 
ahead to this place to cover the landing here, or at White House, as 
might become necessary The tortuous course and frequent shoal waters 
of the Pamunkev made the passage up this river difficult at times even 
for a mud-scow, to sav nothing about a small fleet of barges, schooners, 
and steamboats, many of which were more or less impeded in their 
progress. Some got hung up on snags or stuck in the mud, and had to 
back out, side off, lighten up, or be pulled along by tugs and other boats 
until they got into deep water again. Yet nothing very dangerous or 
damaging occurred, as no torpedo was struck, and the soldiers, not being 
used to either salt or fresh water navigation, were both interested and 
amused in the ways and means emploved to overcome all obstacles that 
the river was so well supplied with. 

One incident, which was especially amusing to some of the Twelfth 
boys who saw and heard, was the wav that Surgeon Fowler got one of 
the hospital boats that he was in charge of pulled out of the mud in 
which it had stuck, by assuming dictatorial authority, and actually scar- 
ing the commander of another boat, loaded with troops, to do what he 
had just refused to, which was to heave to, throw a tow line, and pull 
him out. One would have thought, to have seen the doctor straighten 
up and to have heard him talk, that he was Medical Director of both the 
armies of the James and the Potomac, and that a refusal to obey his 
orders by any officer of the army or navy, of lower rank than a major- 
general or a commodore, would cost him his commission. 

The brigade arrived at White House about noon, and the Twelfth dis- 
embarked about two hours later. The men were glad to be on shore 
again, for it was very hot, and they had been very uncomfortable, 
crowded together between decks, where they were driven by the stifling 
stench below and the scorching rays of the sun above. After landing, 
the brigade, now under the command of Col. Griffin A. Steadman, Jr.,* 
moved a short distance across and east of the railroad, where it remained, 
to the wonder of all the troops, not only until dark, when they feared 
they would have a hard night's march instead of a quiet and refreshing 
sleep, and the next morning, when they expected to march sure, but 
until 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the next day This delay, though not 
understood then, was because the corps commander was awaiting his 
ammunition and baggage train, still on transports and not yet arrived. 
During the night several more of the substitutes, thinking doubtless that 
they were farther North than likely to be again very soon, if they 

" Assumed command May 18. 

200 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

remained longer in the army, decided to detach themselves therefrom by 
" leave of absence" of their own granting. 

After waiting impatiently until 3 o'clock, as above stated, General 
Smith, who had during the night and morning received three copies by 
as many different couriers to march to New Castle, concluded to wait no 
longer., either for his ammunition or further instructions that he had sent 
for, and moved his command forward as rapidly as possible on the hot 
and dusty road to that place. The march was continued until 10 o'clock 
that night, when the Twelfth bivouacked with its brigade at or near Cross 
Roads and three miles from New Castle, on the south side of the 
Pamunkey river. It was fortunate, on account of the extreme heat, that 
the march did not commence sooner in the day, unless the troops had 
started at 3 o'clock in the morning instead of that hour in the afternoon, 
and thus saved in time what they were obliged to make up in speed. 
The distance marched was about fifteen miles, but many of the men, 
judging from their fatigue, thought it nearer twenty-five. 

The further orders that General Smith had been instructed to await at 
this place came at daylight the next morning, directing him to proceed at 
once to New Castle Ferry, and there place his command between the 
Fifth and Sixth Corps. Because of the urgency of this order the troops, 
most of them, moved without breakfast on the morning of June 1, but 
the Twelfth and its brigade had just time to wash down a bite of hard- 
tack with a sip of coffee before the " fall in " order came to them. After 
reaching the Ferry, where, instead of finding the Fifth and Sixth corps, 
no troops were to be seen, it was ascertained that there had been a big 
blunder by somebody in using the words " New Castle - ' instead of Cold 
Harbor in the last order of march, and the whole command had to 
"right about" and march back several miles to where it started from in 
the morning, and then set out again on another road. The mistake was 
a bad as well as a big one for the Eighteenth Corps, for it not only lost 
to the troops time and distance enough to have nearly reached Cold 
Harbor, but obliged them to march in the hottest part of the day, and in 
the rear of the Sixth Corps, which they otherwise would have preceded : 
and to march behind a large body of troops on such a day as that, is 
something more than the reader, unless a veteran, can fully understand. 
The memory of that day's march will exist so long as any man, who was 
in it, continues to live. During the middle of the day the temperature, 
even in the shade, must have been close up to, if not above, blood heat: 
and following much of the time, as the troops had to, directly in the rear 
of the baggage train of the Sixth Corps, the dust was worse, if possible, 
than the heat. 

Captain Barker wrote on the 2d : 

Marched and countermarched nearly all day, yesterday, to get here (Cold 
Harbor), and through the densest clouds of dust that I ever saw 1 could not 
see the length of a single company 

J\'ezi' Hampshire Volunteers, 201 

General Smith says : 

The day was intensely hot, the dust stifling, and the progress slow, as the head 
of the column was behind the trains of the Sixth Corps. The ranks were con- 
sequently much thinned by the falling out of exhausted men. 

Doctor Sanborn, of the Twelfth, reports that the surgeons were kept 
busy in attending and passing to the rear "the poor fellows who, over- 
come by heat, were constantly falling out, some of whom dropped down 
and died from sunstroke." 

It was nearly 4 o'clock before the corps arrived at Cold Harbor and 
joined with the Army of the Potomac, a part of which was already 
engaged with the enemv In a short time Brooks's and Devens's 
divisions advanced and became heavily engaged with the intrenched 
forces in their front, forcing them back into ulterior and stronger lines of 
defense. Martindale's division* was held in reserve on the right, but the 
Second Brigade was deployed, and the Twelfth anxiously waited, not to 
be led forward as thev expected to be, but for some change of position 
that would cover them from the severe fire of the rebel batteries to which 
they were exposed. Twenty solid shot or shells, by actual count, passed 
between the Twelfth and the One Hundred and Forty-eighth New York, 
beside many others that passed over or fell short ; yet no one of either 
regiment, so far as known, was injured. It seemed as if the enemy was 
practicing to see how near he could come and not hit anybody. A little 
later the brigade advanced a short distance into the woods, where it 
remained all night, the men sleeping on their arms, ready to resist an 
attack that might be made upon them at any moment. 

The next morning the Twelfth threw up an intrenchment and lay be- 
hind it all day, except fifty men who were sent out under Captain Fernal 
as skirmishers some two hundred yards in advance of the regiment, and 
about twice as far from the enemy Some were wounded, but none 

There was heavy firing at times during the day upon the left, and a 
constant sputtering of the skirmishers and sharpshooters all along the 
line. About 2 o'clock p. m. there was a heavy outburst of artillery so 
near to the Twelfth that the men began to think that they would soon be 
called upon to advance ; but it was a false, if not foolish, alarm, so far 
as they were concerned, which soon subsided with the noise that caused it. 
But there were other reasons than continuous powder explosions along the 
lines to keep the men apprehensively on the alert, for the air was full of 
rumors of expected or intended charges from one side or the other, and 
not all unfounded either ; for during the day and night previous there 
had been as many as three orders received by General Smith and other 
corps commanders to prepare to attack at a certain hour, and each one 
countermanded except the last, which was to attack at 4.30 the next 

* Commanded until May 20 by General Weitzel. 

202 Hist or x of the Izvclfth Regiment 

morning. How unfortunate for General Grant and his army that this 
order was not also countermanded ! 

Toward night there was quite a shower, which was most gratefully 
welcomed, and would have been received as a perfect "Godsend'" had it 
come a day or two before, when the men on the march were suffering so 
severly from heat and dust. 

Another night had now come, and a solemn one indeed it would have 
been to many thousand brave men could they have known that it was the 
last one that would ever come to them. Many, however, had that 
impression concerning themselves, too strong and deep to admit of sleep, 
and some such there were in the ranks of the Twelfth New Hampshire.* 

June the 3d, 1864, was a terrible day of sacrifice and suffering for the 
Army of the Potomac. It was undoubtedly the greatest and most 
inexcusable slaughter of the whole war Even Grant himself made 
public record of his sorrow for ever having ordered the charge that 
caused it. It was a forlorn hope for nearly the whole length of the line, 
and for man} - brigades and divisions certain destruction to prolong the 
mad attempt to carry the enemy's works in their front. It was like a 
person attempting to kick, with his bare feet, the bottom out of an iron 
kettle full of scalding hot water, the portion of the foot and leg saved 
depending mainly upon the depth of the kettle and the instinctive quick- 
ness of his locomotor muscles. 

Into just such a seething caldron did the brave Colonel Steadman, 
using a ramrod for a sword, lead four regiments of his brigade, massed 
in column by division and headed by the Twelfth New Hampshire, in the 
early light of that fatal morn. In less than ten minutes from the word 
" Forward," there was no brigade to be seen, and of its leading regiment 
nearly one half lay dead or disabled on the field, while of the remaining 
scattered ones, two at least out of every ten were more or less severely 
wounded. f Some of these poor victims of a great and lamentable error 
lay within a few yards of the enemy's works, the living not daring to show 
any signs of life for fear that a rebel bullet would number them with the 
dead. Here they who continued to survive were obliged to lie all day 
upon the burning sands and under the scorching rays of the sun until 
night or death brought them relief. One poor fellow (we forbear to give 
his name because of relatives still living) who had been hopelessly shat- 
tered bv a shell, was seen to forever end his sufferings, that he could no 
longer endure, by deliberately cutting his throat with a jackknife. 

To give a description of this terrible charge is simply impossible, and 
few who were in the ranks of the Twelfth will ever feel like attempting 
it. To those exposed to the full force and fury of that dreadful storm ol 
lead and iron that met the charging column, it seemed more like a vol- 
canic blast than a battle, and was about as destructive. The men went 
down in rows, just as the}' marched in the ranks, and so many at a time 

' See "Presentiments," in another chapter. t See tahle of losses. 

S\'r2i' Hampshire Volunteers. 203 

that those in rear of them thought they were lying down, either from 
instinct or command, to avoid the fire that they could no longer withstand. 
Sergeant Piper, of Company B, says : 

The men bent down as they pushed forward, as if trying, as they were, to 
breast a tempest, and the riles of men went down like rows of blocks or bricks 
pushed over by striking against each other. 

Lieutenant Jewett describes the men in his division as falling "half a 
platoon almost at a time, like grain before the reaper or grass before the 

Sergeant Tuttle, of Company K, savs : 

I thought the order was t<> lie down and dropped myself among the dead, and 
did not discover mv mistake until my living comrades had advanced some little 
distance beyond me. 

A. J Farrar, of Company H, with many others, thought the same thing, 
when, as he expressed it, •• I saw them all go down." 

But Captain Barker in command of the regiment, knowing of course 
that no such order had been given, but supposing the men were lying 
down of their own accord to avoid the withering blast of the rebel bat- 
teries, yelled out with angry vehemence to Captain Bedee, leading one of 
the divisions, to bring his men up and forward into line, pointing at the 
same time with his sword to several files who had just fallen flat upon 
their faces. The next moment Captain Bedee was among the prostrate 
men vainly trying by a vigorous use of his sword and feet to do as he had 
been ordered. " I soon found,'" as he afterwards told Captain Barker, 
" that nothing but the judgment trump of the Almighty would ever bring 
those men upon their feet again.'' 

The regiment went forward until literally cut to pieces or torn into 
fragments, and had no semblance of form or organization left ; and the 
other regiments of the charging column, not caring to imitate its example, 
though comparatively intact, quickly sought shelter with the survivors of 
the Twelfth, behind the entrenchments in the woods from which they had 
emerged but a few moments before. 

The following outline diagram, as sketched by Sergt. Benjamin B. 
Clarke, of Company G, the day after the battle, will assist the reader in 
getting a correct idea of the relative positions of the regiments of the 
charging column, and the line of works and artillery of the enemy at the 
time the charge was made. 

204 History of the Twelfth Regiment 


.1 (illlls. 

I I I I I 


Redan. ^ =^ " „ ,. „ >*. v ^n ix 



12th X. H. 

A - B 
E F 

I H 

K D 

c <; 

Open Field. Open Field. 

llth Conn. 

8th Maine. 
•2.1 X. H. 

148th X. Y in trenches. 

Line of Intrenehnients. I I I I I I 


Pine Wc 

The letters to the right and left of the straight lines representing the di- 
visions of the regiment, show of what companies those divisions were 
formed and their flank positions. The One Hundred and Forty-eighth 
New York Regiment were sent forward as skirmishers, but never went 
farther than the outer line of intrenchments, the other regiments going 
over them when they made the charge. To advance a massed column 
of troops into such a semi-circle of destruction as here portrayed, with front 
and back flanks entirely exposed to the converging tire of eight or ten 
pieces of artillerv and more than half a mile sweep of battle-lined mus- 
ketry, was something fearful to even contemplate, but how much more so 
to actually experience none can tell save those who were there. No 
wonder that Captain Barker who had a heart to feel as well as courage 
to act, when he saw the field covered with his own brave men and heard 
the cries of the wounded, some of whom were less fortunate than the 
dead, stood up before his superiors in rank while the enemy s shot was 
still flying around him, and wounding some of his listeners as he spoke, 
and denounced in righteous wrath the general, high or low, who was 
guilty of ordering such a murderous charge as that. He was so highly 
wrought up by his anger and the excitement of the occasion, that he de- 
clared with an oath that he would not take his regiment into another 
such charge, if Jesus Christ himself should order it. 

Captain Barker, as hereafter seen, was decidedly opposed to making the 
charge, massed in column, and so expressed his opinion. Adjutant-Gen- 

J\"i"i' Hampshire Volunteers. 205 

eral Reynolds referred to Napoleon, as making all his charges in solid 
column, and thought it the most effectual way "The most effectual 
wav of murdering men, I agree, and there is the evidence of it," sharply 
replied the captain, as he pointed to the field in front, thickly spotted 
with the dead and wounded. The next moment General Reynolds was 
wounded in the shoulder, from the effects of which he afterwards died. 

Notwithstanding the bloody repulse of the Union troops the whole length 
of his line, although the Second, Sixth, and Eighteenth corps had been 
chiefly relied upon for the grand charge. General Grant with characteristic 
stubbornness allowed General Meade to order the attacks renewed ; and 
repeated efforts were made to get the corps commanders to push forward 
other heavy assaulting columns, either in concert as at first attempted, or 
independent of each other as at last directed, but all to no effect. These 
generals had no heart to see their brave troops so needlessly slaughtered 
again, and they too well appreciated the intelligence and temper of the men 
thev commanded to believe they would obey an order for another such 
charge should it be made. In fact it might be stated upon good authority,* 
that the men " unanimously refused to obey any such an order, for they 
knew success was hopeless and refused to be sacrificed to no purpose." Yet 
there were constant movements, feints by brigades and divisions in the 
different corps, which kept the Confederates constantly on the alert and 
the artillery on both sides unremittingly active. Grant, convinced at last 
that he was attempting the impossible, ordered a cessation of " all further 
offensive operations," and directed that corps commanders " entrench 
their positions and that reconnoissances be made with a view to moving 
against the enemy's works by regular approaches." 

And thus ended the battle of Cold Harbor Nearly fifteen thousand, 
or enough to populate quite a large city had been cut down or disabled 
in the prime and pride of their manhood, and this appalling sacrifice 
without the slightest advantage gained, or a single point or purpose ef- 
fected ! Many regiments had suffered severely, but none had lost so 
many in proportion to its number engaged as the Twelfth New Hamp- 
shire. Such was the hopelessness of their undertaking and the peril of 
their position as they debouched from the woods at the head of the charg- 
ing column, that one of the Confederate officers said to some of the regi- 
ment on the day of the truce for burying our dead, "it seemed almost 
like murder to fire upon you." "Thousands slain and nothing gained," 
must be the short but true verdict of history upon the last effort of General 
Grant to crush out the Rebellion by defeating its main army before it fell 
back to meet him again, behind still stronger works on the other side 
of Richmond. The following extract from a letter written by Colonel 
Barker headed and dated: " In a trench one hundred yards from the 
rebel skirmishers, 'June j, i86j," explains briefly the part taken by the 
Twelfth : 

( ireeley's American Conflict, Vol. II, pu^e Ml. 

206 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

At 4 o'clock yesterday morning our brigade left our breastworks, marched a 
few rods to the left and at about 5 o'clock started on a charge with pieces un- 
capped and bayonets fixed. The One Hundred and Fortv-eighth New York 
Regiment had deployed as skirmishers. Next in line followed the Twelfth New 
Hampshire in column by division, followed by the Eleventh Connecticut and the 
Eighth Maine with the .Second Xew Hampshire in the rear. We passed through 
a distance of some four hundred yards with but very little loss. As the One 
Hundred and Forty-eighth appeared at the edge of the open field volley after 
volley belched forth from the rebel works about five hundred yards ahead and 
the regiment gave way I tried my best to get Colonel Steadman, commanding 
column, to deploy ; for I deemed it rashness to charge the enemy's works so 
strong and threatening in column. He would not allow it but said, "go as you 
are," and we did go into the most deadly fire that ever met an opposing force 
on the field of battle ; and when within about fifty yards of the enemy's works 
that we were all rushing for, a battery opened upon us with grape and canister 
on our left and musketry from the right. Seeing that to advance further in this 
formation was annihilation to the regiment, I endeavored to deploy the column, 
but it was too late, it could not be done. The men fell back and what were 
left, about no, re-formed in the rear of our breastworks. 

The color bearer. Sergeant Hoyt, was shot and got separated from the regi- 
ment and for a time we thought we had lost our colors, and not until we had 
formed in support of Stanard's brigade did we know where thev were. Then a 
corporal by the name of Wallace, of Company K, came bringing them in and pre- 
sented them to me. You ought to have heard the sflad cheers with which the old 
flag was greeted.* I made the corporal color sergeant on the spot, placed him in 
the centre of the remaining little squad and told them to consider themselves all 
the color guard. I sent out last night a detail to bring off the wounded who had 
lain on the field all day where many doubtless died before thev could be rescued. 
L T p to the present time we know of twenty killed, eighty wounded and about one 
hundred missing; about all the last are probably killed or wounded. 

The following graphic description of this battle from the pen of George 
E. Place, of Company B, is taken from his personal experience in the 
war, the remainder of which will be found in a subsequent chapter : 

A cannonading was going on as we reached the field. [Afternoon of June 
1st.] We halted at least two miles from where the rebel guns were in action; 
vet an occasional shot came quite near us. One missile struck and buried itself 
in the ground about twenty feet from me, and not over six feet from where a 
comrade was standing. It was dug out, and proved to be a shot from a Whit- 
worth rifle gun. Presently we moved on, and took up a position, " resting at 
will," in some pitie woods where occured that terrible enfilading fire from a con- 
cealed rebel battery. Colonel Barker was standing near me, and I heard him re- 
mark, that he thought lie had experienced some heavy artillery firing at the 
battle of Bull Run, but none equaled the closeness of that fire, yet strange as it 
may appear, as far as I could learn, not a man of the regiment was hurt while in 
that position. The shot were evidently all solid, as I do not recollect hearing 

' The regiment had uo Suite colors at that time. 

JVezv Hampshire Volunteers. 207 

any explosion of shells. One shot struck a tree ten inches in diameter at about 
eighteen inches from the ground, not over four feet from where I was sitting, 
cutting it half off. I heard some of the boys express a wish that a charge would 
be ordered on that battery, as they would rather do that, than lie quietly there 
and be murdered in cold blood. After about half an hour we were ordered to 
advance, and so we got out of range. We moved on a few rods and halted again. 
While there, some movement on the picket line called out several volleys of 
musketry, and the bullets came spatting around quite thickly. "Sherb" Locke 
was sitting at my left; a bullet struck his tin dipper which was fastened to his 
haversack, making of it a shapeless mass. My elbow was so near the dipper as 
almost to touch it. 

And now I will pass on to that fateful morning of the third of June. We are 
in line of battle, •• close column by division." We are ordered to take the caps 
from our guns, and fix bayonet. We are now in the woods, and can see nothing 
of the rebels. Every thing is quiet. Ah ! it is such occasions as this which try 
men's nerves. I made a studv of the faces around me. Every face was more or 
less pale, but all had a determined look, except a New York recruit by the name 
of Haves. He was trembling, and his face was pale as death. I encountered 
him not long afterwards in the field hospital. He was unharmed. I questioned 
him some, and was satisfied, from his evasive answers that he had skulked out of 
the fight. I learned afterwards that he deserted about that time — probably that 
night. Thus we stood, all ready for the charge ; I know not how long, but it 
seemed a long time to me, for at such a time, with men's nerves strained to their 
utmost tension, a minute seems an hour. Finally, the Colonel drew his sword, — 
"Forward, march " and the regiment started. We had not gone ten feet, when 
a rebel battery on our left flank opened fire. I wondered how the rebels knew 
so soon that we had started, for being in the woods, they could not see us. The 
guns were so arranged that the iron storm swept past us about two rods in front. 
How it crashed and howled through those pine trees ! For a moment, the regi- 
ment quailed and halted. As it did so, I turned and looked at Colonel Barker. I 
shall never forget the expression that came into his face as he beheld that halting. 
His eyes dilated, and it seemed as if I could almost see the fire flash from them. 
He flung his sword above his head and shouted with a voice that seemed as if the 
rebels must have heard, — "'Forward!" Instantly the regiment started again, 
yelling as it went. There was no more halting after that, until, swept down in 
killed and wounded, it lost all semblance of order, and could do no otherwise 
than fall back. That artillery discharge was immediately followed by the 
opening of musketry. I passed close by one of the vedettes in a rifle-pit, 
hugging to the ground as close as he could, and trembling like an aspen leaf. 
Past the vedettes, we immediately enter an open field. It is bare of vegetation. 
All over that field little puffs of dust are thickly rising, occasioned by the rebel 
bullets striking the ground. A line of breastworks runs zig-zag; one in front, 
the other on our left. We cannot see a man in these works, for a dense cloud 
of battle-smoke rests all along the line. From the works in front, and the 
works on our left, arose a musketry fire so heavy, it seemed almost like one 
continual crash of thunder, while artillery on our left poured in the shells. 
Just as we entered the field, a shell plunged into the ground at the left of 
our column, and immediately burst, throwing the dirt and pebbles all over us. 

208 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

Some small missile struck me just under the left eye. causing a sharp sting, and I 
felt the blood trickling down my face. 

James Rollins was at my left, Charles Marden next to him, and the next beyond, 
Charles Bunker. Soon after we got into the field, Rollins threw up both hands, 
uttered a veil, and fell over on his face. I thought surely he was killed, but 
found him afterwards in the field hospital. A bullet had gone through the calves 
of both legs. I looked for Marden and Bunker to " dress" by, but thev were 
missing; indeed, there was such a wide gap on my left (I was almost on the 
right of the column) that I thought I had fallen behind my column, and hastened 
to catch up, only to find myself in Company A, who were in the front column. 
We were now so near the breastworks that I could see the flash of their musketry 
quivering through the bank of smoke that lay above them, like lightning through 
a cloud ; and I was just thinking of the hand-to-hand struggle that would come 
when we reached the breastworks, when a bullet went through rav right arm. 
My hand instantly flew open, and my gun dropped to the ground. All the fingers 
on that hand turned back to nearly a right angle with the back of my hand, 
and quivered, caused, probably, by a sudden contraction of the muscles. I 
thought for a moment, that mv arm was broken, and I caught hold of mv fingers 
and straightened them out. About this time, the regiment began to fall back. 
Just before I reentered the woods a flank bullet grazed the small of mv back. It 
left quite a scar, which is there to-dav As I received that third blow, that old, 
familiar expression, "hit 'im agin, blue jacket, he's got no friends," passed 
across mv mind. I reached the field hospital, and sat down among a group ot 
wounded men, so as to get my wounds dressed. As I raised my eyes, I saw I 
was seated near an amputating table. The spectacle was too harrowing, and 
I arose to go away, but immediately grew faint, and had to sit down again. I 
was compelled to sit there nearly an hour before my condition would allow me to 
go away Twice during the time I was there, a load of arms, legs, hands, and 
feet, was carried oft" on a shelter tent and dumped into a ravine. 

The battle indeed was over, but the suffering and agony of the poor 
wounded men, who still lay upon the field where they fell, did not so 
quickly end. Hardest of all, worse even than the dreadful charge itself, 
was the sight of comrades and tent-mates, endeared by many kind, 
unselfish deeds and cherished for their brotherly care and affection, lying 
helpless in their suffering within plain sight, with no means or power to 
aid or even comfort them by an assisting hand or sympathetic word. 
Man)- of the wounded left on the field and unable to get under cover, 
were deliberately shot dead by the inhuman rebel wretches ; and this 
was done so long after the charge and its excitement was over that every 
such shot made the one who aimed it little better than a cold-blooded 
murderer So worse than savages and revengefully malicious were some 
of those heartless fiends in human shape, that they not onlv shot at those 
who showed any signs of life, but amused themselves by making targets 
of the bodies of those that were dead. A number of the Twelfth received 
their death wounds from these cowardly miscreants, and some that, but 
for them, might have recovered from their wounds received while ad vane- 

JYezc Hampshire Volunteers. 209 

ing in the charge. Of all the means, persuasive or coercive, that could 
have been used to induce soldiers of that army, who had once breasted 
the storm, to make another determined charge upon the enemy's 
intrenchments, none would have been half as effective as an appeal to 
that deep feeling of commingled pity and anger that was created by the 
suffering condition and inhuman treatment of their comrades who lay 
between them and the foe. "Revenge or death" would, at that time, 
have been a most potent battle-cry, and nerved the best and bravest of 
the troops to desperate and determined efforts to break through the 
enemy's lines or perish, like their comrades, in the attempt. 

As showing the situation of the Twelfth during the whole day after the 
fatal attack, as well as of the silent and suffering ones who lay upon the 
field where they fell, for rive days and four nights, except when rescued 
by their comrades, under cover of darkness, we quote the following from 
General Smith's account, already referred to in this chapter : 

At the close of the battle the front of General Martindale was less than two 
hundred yards from the enemy's line, and in the open space between were many 
dead and wounded. For three days no cessation of hostilities was asked for; 
and common rumor gave as a reason that there was fear of a refusal, as there 
were no dead or wounded of the enemy between the lines to be cared for. Some 
of our wounded were brought in by men who risked their lives in the act, and 
some were rescued by digging trenches to them. The groans of such as could 
not be reached grew fainter and fainter until thev ceased. 

Here then is such a picture of war as does not often present itself even 
to the veteran of a hundred battles. Two armies so closely confronting 
each other that their main lines in some places are scarcely a rifle shot 
apart, and the exposure of a hand or head, upon either side, is pretty 
sure to result in a furlough for thirty days or eternity ; while upon the 
narrow space between, in plain sight of both friend and foe, are lying 
thousands of the dead, wounded, and dying, all stricken down from the 
ranks of one of the opposing armies, and all unprotected and uncared for 

That the wounded were thus allowed to remain in suffering helpless- 
ness upon the field day after day, unless sooner rescued by their pitying 
comrades, was because of such a shameful and criminal negligence as 
no common words can fully and justly characterize. And this we say, 
more in sorrowful remembrance of the dead who there suffered and died, 
than from any feelings of angry indignation that the same remembrance 
can, after so many years, quickly revive in the minds of the living. 
For ordering the charge, or ever allowing it to be made at the time and 
place it was, there may perhaps be found, among all the surrounding 
circumstances, some show of excuse, if not of justification ; but for per- 
mitting wounded heroes of that charge to suffer and die as they did, one 
must search in vain for either one or the other. Fears of refusal were 
certainly no excuse for not asking, when both mercy and pity, with all the 


210 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

nobler impulses of humanity, were pleading for immediate action for 
their relief. And more than this, what ground was there for doubting 
that General Lee would have respected a flag of truce to care for the 
wounded and bury the dead? 

General Smith, while more than willing, as we have seen, to throw the 
responsibility and odium upon Meade or Grant, seems to have forgotten 
that he could onlv blame them by condemning himself. For what more 
could have been both his privilege and duty than to have reported the 
condition and situation of his wounded men to his superiors in command, 
and requested permission for their immediate removal under a flag of 
truce. Had he done this, which he nowhere even intimates that he did, 
then words of express as well as implied censure might have come in 
good grace from him, and could not have been too severe. 

Seeing that nothing had been done through that long, sad dav for their 
comrades, the men of the Twelfth welcomed night as they scarcely ever 
had before, even for the relief of their own toils and sufferings, that 
they might go themselves to the rescue. To have attempted anvthing of 
the kind during the day would have been at the cost of more than six for 
one and practically impossible ; for even under the cover of the night it 
was a very dangerous undertaking, and only the greatest caution and the 
most persistent efforts made it even partiallv successful. But if night 
was gladly welcomed by those who were only intent upon the work of 
saving, how much more so by those whom they were trying to save, the 
reader, from what has already been written, can have onlv a slight con- 
ception. To them it was like the shadow of angel's wing. It not only 
brought cooling dews in place of burning sun, but gave those who were 
able a chance of showing signs of life without inviting death, and 
strengthened the hope, which was not a vain one, that their comrades 
would attempt their rescue as soon as dark enough. And then, scarcely 
less to the seeker than the sought, was the tearful gladness of their meet- 
ing on that night-screened field of awful carnage. To those even who 
were nearly under the dark shadow of death, it was no small consolation 
to know that their companions in arms were mindful of them and periling 
their own lives to save theirs ; to have the privilege of once more grasp- 
ing their hands and listening to their tender words of sympathy in that 
solemn, life-parting hour ; and to send by them a last, loving message to 
the dearly cherished in their far distant homes, so soon to be gloomed in 
sadness and sorrow for another brave soldier dead. Some lived but a 
few moments after being found or brought into our lines, others expired 
that night or the next day at field hospital ; while others, among whom 
were Lieutenant Emery, of Company F, and Joseph Hill and Albert 
McKenzie, of Company B, were sent to Washington, where thev soon 
after died. But there were a few, more fortunate in receiving less 
dangerous wounds in the charge, and in getting the cover of a rock, 
stump, or rebel vedette hole to protect them from the bullets of fiendish 

.Vr:;' Hampshire ] T ohmtccrs. 211 

sharpshooters, who not only lived to get to some general hospital in the 
North, but after long suffering recovered so as to reach their homes, 
where one at least — B. W Clarke, of Company F — is still living. 

During the afternoon two or three companies, some twenty-five or 
thirty men from the left of the regiment and under the command of Captain 
Bedee, had been deploved as skirmishers and advanced a few yards over 
a low piece of ground, just to the left and rear of where the charge was 
made. In a few moments every man was under ground ! Not dead and 
buried quite so quickly as that, but they had sunk themselves into the 
earth in real gopher style assisted by a most vigorous use of jack-knives 
and bayonets for axes and picks, and tin dippers and plates for spades 
and shovels. It is amusing, even to the men themselves, to see how sur- 
prisinglv quick one will cover himself from the view of the keen-eyed 
rebel sharpshooters, when every second is likely to be his last until his 
work is accomplished. 

After dark the men were relieved from their cramped positions in their 
gopher holes, and notwithstanding the extra hazardous service they had 
performed, it was found that only three had been wounded and none seri- 
ously. Fortunately no other detail was made from the Twelfth that 
night, and so forty men — as many as Captain Barker dared to let go, be- 
ing nearly half the regiment — went out with Captain Fernal and Lieu- 
tenant Sanders on their mission of mercy and love above referred to. 
Making as little noise as possible they break into little squads of double 
files as they approach the centre of the field, where most of the dead and 
wounded lie. The work of searching for the living was their first 
and main object, for the dead needed not their aid, though their bodies 
soon received attention. This, under the circumstances was more dif- 
ficult and dangerous than might become apparent without a word or two 
of explanation. The night though dark was not so much so but what a 
man standing erect could be seen for some little distance. For this rea- 
son the rescuers as they neared the enemy's line had to crawl upon their 
hands and knees, and in this position could plainly see the strong line of 
rebel pickets outlined against the sky, but a short distance from them. 

Thus in silent darkness, for none but whispered words could be spoken, 
they crept around among the still more silent dead listening, for they could 
make no call, for some deep sigh or low moan that would tell them where 
amid the surrounding gloom of night and death they might find one in 
whose veins the vital fluid still continued to circulate. And when by 
some such sound or mere accident a comrade at last was found, with 
whispered caution to make if possible no cry of distress or groan of 
agony, he was carefully lifted up, a blanket or stretcher put under him, 
and borne away with noiseless steps to where they would receive all the 
comfort and care that kind hearts and willing hands could render. And 
thus the noble work of rescuing suffering humanity went on, not only for 
that night, but the next and even the third, until all of the living and most 

212 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

of the dead were removed, leaving but comparatively lew to be buried, on 
the held where they fell, under a flag of truce, which was not until just 
before dark, on the 7th, or five days after the battle. 

Sergeants Gordon, of Company C, and Gray, of Company F, found and 
brought in Lieutenant Emery : Captain Fernal and Sergeant Place, of 
Company A. secured the body of Lieutenant Dunn : and Sergeant Clarke 
and others of Company G succeeded in getting the sword and watch of 
Lieutenant Whittier. but were fired upon while trying to remove his body 
and had to leave it. Sergeant Cheney, of Company E, though seen alive 
between the lines during the day, could not be found and his body was 
never recovered. His brother, Daniel P., of the same company, long 
sought in vain for him or his body, inspecting the faces of the dead by 
the carefully secured light of a match, when he found one in form and 
height resembling him, that he might know that it was not the body of his 
brother During this and the succeeding night many of the dead as well 
as the living were taken off the field. Sergeant Clarke above referred to 
savs : " Twenty-eight of our dead were brought in and buried in one 
trench on the night of the fourth, making fifty already brought into our 
lines and buried." This would make twenty that were recovered and 
buried on the night of the charge. How many of the living were rescued 
there is no means of knowing ; nor is it known how many of the dead 
were brought in on the night of the 5th. 

On the morning of the 4th Captain Bedee was wounded in the head 
by a musket ball, and was so badly injured that he was rendered insane 
for a while and had to be sent to the hospital. A little later in the day 
Sergeant George K. Hughes, of Company E, was killed by a shell from 
one of our own guns. It was a percussion shell that striking a tree near 
by exploded, and a piece of it buried itself in the sergeant's back, causing 
his death in a few moments. Gustave Newman of the same company 
was wounded by the same shell. Sergeant Hughes had just before been 
helping mend the flag-staff that had been partly cut off by a bullet or 
piece of shell, and at the time he was struck he was looking at the enemy's 
line through a field glass that Corporal Cox had taken from the body of a 
rebel officer at the battle of Swift Creek. Sergeant Gray, of Company F, 
was sent back to the batter)' to tell them the danger of our men from their 

That night the brigade was advanced several yards nearer the rebel 
line and there threw up a new line of intrenchments which the Twelfth 
and other regiments occupied the next day It was within easy musket 
range of the rebel pickets, who no sooner discovered it by the first light of 
day than they fell back in great haste. They evidently had no desire tor 
so close an acquaintance with the Yankees. 

'• The boys are amusing themselves by firing through loop holes at 
even' rebel that shows his head," wrote Captain Barker while sitting in 
the same ditch where his men were thus employed. But the enemy in 

^Yezi 1 Hampshire Volunteers . 213 

their front was by no means idle. His men were returning bullet for 
bullet and his artillery gave the new redoubt a severe shelling several 
times during the day Nathaniel Briggs, of Company C, was mortally 
wounded by a rebel sharpshooter while carrying water to the boys in the 
trenches, he lived about three weeks. 

The regiment remained in the same line of trenches until dark the next 
dav, when part of it was advanced as skirmishers in front of the position 
held by the Twelfth and Second, while the men quickly threw up another 
line of works a short distance in front of the line thrown up a night or two 

This was done so close upon the rebel pickets that serious trouble was 
expected, but the work was done so quicklv and quietly, not a word being 
spoken above a whisper, that only two men of the Second Regiment and 
one of the Twelfth were wounded. This was thought to be rare good 
luck considering the dangerous situation. It seemed as if Grant, having 
failed to drive the enemy out of his lines was now trying to croivd him 
out. It was thought by the rebels, that the design of daily moving their 
lines, by regular approaches every night, was to get as near as possible, 
and then over-run them bv a grand rush. It is doubtful, however, if 
General Grant ever seriously entertained such an idea ; although there 
was much reason, from his persistent crowding, and from what they had 
already learned of his natural disinclination to give up what he had once 
undertaken, for such a belief to have been entertained bv them. 

Later in the night, after the firing caused by the picket advance had 
died away, another and last effort was made to recover the bodies of the 
Twelfth men still left upon the field. The searching party was fired upon, 
but succeeded in getting several more of the dead, among which was found 
one man that was still living. His name is not known, but he was prob- 
ably one of the recruits. How long he had remained conscious after he 
fell, or how much he had suffered during the three days and nights he 
had lain on the field, none can tell. The 7th found the regiment in the 
same trenches, but now, for a wonder, in the second line, the one thrown 
up the night before being occupied by the Eighth Maine. Between the 
hours of six and eight in the afternoon there was a two hours' truce for 
burying the dead still left between the lines. On the 9th, Lieutenant 
Joseph N Shepard, of the Sixth New Hampshire, was killed by a sharp- 
shooter while talking with some of the Twelfth. His regiment was, at 
that time, in General Griffin's brigade of the Ninth Corps, and he had 
come over to see some of the boys in the regiment who had been his 
neighbors and schoolmates in Gilmanton, N. H., before the war. He was 
cautioned by them to keep covered and not expose himself, as he could 
only do so with extreme hazard ; but, having gone safely through Spott- 
sylvania and the Wilderness, he seemed to think himself proof against 
bullets, and heeded not the earnest admonitions of his friends. Though 
his death was the result, somewhat, of his own folly, it was nevertheless 


214 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

sad, and as his would-be preservers looked upon his lifeless form, that but 
a moment before stood erect and defiant in the face of the enemy, they 
blamed themselves for not having made him heed their warnings. He 
was carried to the rear bv the friends with whom he had been talking, 
three of whom were C. S. Oilman, G W Andrews, and E. \V Shannon, 
all of Company G. The same day. John Smith, a recruit of Company 
B, was severly wounded in the head. 

The situation was now fast becoming a serious one in respect to the 
exposure of the men to disease as well as danger The lines were s 
close together in some places, that pickets could not be sent out by either 
side without running into each other, making a continuous skirmish 
fight between the pickets by night, and constant rifle and artillery prac- 
tice bv the opposing lines through the day This great strain upon 
the nervous system, together with lack of food and water, want of sleep 
and rest, and exposure to the extreme heat and noxious vapors, were 
already beginning to have their baneful effect upon the men, and without 
some change, would soon become more dangerous to the Federal army 
than rebel bullets. 

Gen. A. A. Humphreys, who was at this time General Mead's chief of 
staff, writes in his " Virginia Campaign of 1864 and 1865" as follows: 

Although the lines were advanced by regular approaches (they were so close 
to the enemy's intrenchments, and the ground was so open, that they could not 
be advanced in any other way) yet an assault gave no promise ot success. The 
army remained in position here until the night of the 12th, when it withdrew to 
cross the James river. The daily skirmishing during that time was sharp, and 
caused severe loss in some divisions. During the night there was heavy artillery 
firing, and sometimes heavy- musketry. The labor of making the approaches 
and strengthening the intrenchments was hard. The men in the advanced part 
of the lines, which were some miles in length, had to lie close in narrow trenches. 
with no water, except a little to drink, and that the worst kind, being from sur- 
face drainage; they were exposed to great heat during the day, and they had but 
little sleep. Their cooking was of the rudest character. * * * * Dead 
horses and mules were scattered over the country, and between the lines were 
many dead bodies of both sides lying unburied in a burning sun. The country 
was low and marshy in character. The exhaustive effect of all this began to 
show itself, and sickness of malarial character increased largely 

On the day of the truce for burying the dead, Captain Sanborn paced 
off the distance between the lines in front of the regiment and found it but 
seventy paces or yards. Among other incidents, that have not already- 
been referred to, are the following : 

A rebel sharpshooter, who had perched himself in a tree, had killed 
and wounded several of our officers and men, and one of Berdan's best 
shots was sent for to silence the rebel's one-ounce battery that was being 
used by him with such deadly effect. Soon the desired man, armed with 
a telescope riile, appeared, and reported for duty After learning the 

SVe7i' Hampshire Volunteers. 21s 

location of the man he was hunting for, he chose the trench then occupied 
by the Twelfth as his headquarters, and commenced operations. It was 
a fight between two at long range, but the " Green Coat" had the advan- 
tage of both aim and reach, as well as weight of metal ; and after a few 
exchanges of their leaden messengers, he turned to the boys, who had 
been intently watching him, and smilingly said, ''There, I don't believe 
that Johnny will trouble you any more," and he didn't. 

Lieutenant Clark informs the writer, that the next shot, after that which 
killed Shepard, and fired, as he thinks, by the same sharpshooter, passed 
between his gun-strap and stock, knocking a piece out of the latter, com- 
ing very close to his head, and burving itself in the ground under a hard- 
tack box that it penetrated. 

Sergeant A. G Sanborn, of Company G, savs that on the same dav of 
the charge, June 3, he and John Arnett, of the same company, went to 
get their canteens filled with water, and on" their way back they saw a 
shell coming which burst near them, killing his companion by his side. 
When the order was given to uncap pieces and fix bayonets, " I shall 
never forget," says Colonel Barker, "that while some of the men turned 
pale, and all looked sternly sober, one there was, a mere boy in years, of 
Company D, who quickly grabbed the cap from his gun-tube and threw 
it upon the ground with no more signs of fear, and about as much of 
excitement and impatience as if he had just snapped at a squirrel, and his 
gun had missed fire." This was James F Marshall. 

After the brigade had fallen back to the first line of intrenchments, the 
officer in command of the provost line came up from the rear, and re- 
ported that most of one of the regiments were back in the ravine, referring 
to those who had escaped unharmed from the charge. In reply to an 
inquiry if there were many of the Twelfth boys back there, he replied : 
"Yes, lots of them, but all severely wounded." 

Lieutenant-Colonel Murry, of the One Hundred and Forty-eighth 
New York, in conversation with some other officers about the perilous 
position of the Twelfth in leading the charge, and whose regiment, it will 
be remembered, did not advance beyond the outer line of intrenchments, 
up to which they had skirmished, made this remark : " My God ! I never 
expected to see a regiment march into the jaws of death, without flinch- 
ing, as that regiment did." 

Alvin Mitchell, of Company K, was the first man hit in the regiment 
after the charge was ordered, being wounded in the arm just as the line 
left the woods. Several of the men had their muskets shattered in their 
hands, or knocked out of them, and one had his gun barrel cut entirely 
off. Many of the companies had less than a dozen men left in the ranks 
after the charge, and some of them less than half that number " Company 
A," says Sergeant Lawler, "came out of the charge with only five whole 
men." It advanced a few moments before with one officer and twenty- 
one men. Lieutenant Dunn and ten men were killed, and six were 
severely wounded. 

21 6 Hist or x of the Twelfth Regiment 

Company B, according to the record of Orderly Sergeant Paige, went 
in with the same number of men and came out with but four left, and 
those, like the five saved from Company A, had their clothes and equip- 
ments perforated or torn by bullets or pieces of shells. In this com- 
pany three were killed and fourteen wounded, but not all of the latter 
were reported because not seriously injured. Company H, though not 
suffering so severely as those in the first division, was so reduced in officers, 
that Corporal Daniel M. Huntoon was the only man of any rank left to 
command the company While the skirmishers from the Twelfth, al- 
ready referred to, were digging holes for their protection, on the after- 
noon of the 3d, Captain Heath reported as having counted twelve bullets 
that struck, in as many minutes, a tree over the boys' heads. The reader 
will not wonder, from this little incident alone, at what the author has said 
about the anxiety of the men to get their heads below the surface of the 
ground. George W Pitman, a drummer of Company B, relates, that he 
saw two men wounded by a bullet, at the same time, while dipping coffee 
out of a camp kettle. 

One day a staff officer came up to the line of intrenchments where the 
regiment was lying, and was about to look through his field glass at the 
rebel works when he was told by Sergeant Tilton, of Company F, in his 
dry, joking way. that he had better look out for "Johnny Sharp" while 
he was looking. The officer only cast a reproachful glance at the speaker 
in return for the timely advice, and commenced to take his visual survey 
of things in front. The Sergeant said to himself, as he resents mv advice 
I will say no more, but I will have that glass in a minute, and he did, as 
the officer had no further use for it, having taken his last look. 

On the afternoon of the nth, after being in the front line of trenches 
for ten days and nights the Twelfth was relieved, and marched back about 
half a mile and remained there for the remainder of the day and the 
following night. What this short move back from the enemy's fire meant, 
no one of the regiment knew, but when it was continued at 10 o'clock the 
next day in the direction of the White House, the hope already enter- 
tained, was strengthened, that they were on the return route to the Army 
of the James. 

And such proved to be the fact, the long line of ambulances, loaded 
with the wounded, having passed over the road several days before. 
Among the many of the Twelfth that had been sent back to the provisional 
hospital at the White House was Captain Shackford, the old commander 
of Company E, and William B. Welch, one of the original members of 
the same company 

Special mention is made of them here, because both received more 
dangerous wounds in the charge than any other man in the regiment who 
survived, and because of the suffering that each endured in his ambu- 
lance ride over that long and rough road. Welch was wounded seven 
times, and Shackford was so many times and badly wounded, that Lieut. 

^Yezc Hampshire Volunteers. 217 

A. St. Clair Smith, who was also wounded, and rode in the same ambu- 
lance with him, thought he would not live to get to the river. 

The regiment arrived at the landing a little before dark, thoroughlv 
exhausted, for they were so worn down when they started that their 
march of seventeen miles, even toward home, was more than all could 
endure, and the weaker ones had to fall out on the wav That even- 
ing part of the regiment embarked on the same boat that brought 
them, and steamed down to West Point, remaining there until daylight 
the next day The remainder of the regiment boarded the " Daniel 
Webster" which remained at anchor near the wharf all night. The first 
named boat proceeded on its backward trip to near Harrison's Landing 
on the James, where it anchored for the night at about 8.30 p. m. the 
next day ; but the "Webster" reached Bermuda Hundred the same even- 
ing where the men landed at once and marched four miles to Point of 
Rocks on the Appomattox, after a few hours' rest, resumed their march 
toward Petersburg. 

The other boat left its anchorage on the James about light in the morn- 
ing, and being of light draft, steamed up the Appomattox to Point of 
Rocks, landing its troops there a few hours after the rest of the regiment, 
with most of the brigade, had left. It was nearlv 4 o'clock in the after- 
noon of the 15th, before the different parts of the regiment and brigade 
united near Petersburg, to which place the whole Eighteenth Corps was 
now pushing as rapidlv as possible, so as to capture it before the Con- 
federate forces could reoccupv it. for it had been left nearly defenseless 
after Beauregard's troops had joined Lee. Becoming satisfied of this, 
General Butler had sent General Gillmore, with several thousand men, to 
capture it, while Grant was fighting Lee at Cold Harbor ; and according 
to his account, it could very easily have been done if Gillmore had half 
done his duty And even now it was not too late, if only General Smith 
had been as quick and vigorous in his movements as Grant designed, 
Butler urged, and duty demanded. But again, Petersburg was saved to 
the Confederacy by the needless, if not willful delay of one of our own 

It is sad. even now, to reflect how many times our armies were defeated 
from the want of our leading commanders having anv practical appre- 
ciation of the value of time. General Lee truly said, though his words 
were figurative, that he lost his right arm when tv Stonewall" Jackson fell ; 
but it was legs more than arms that made Jackson so valuable to his chief. 
When the occasion demanded his presence, he was there ; while simi- 
lar demands upon our leaders were either entirely disregarded or tardily 


Siege of Petersburg. 

The Siege of Petersburg, as it is usually called, includes the whole 
period between the transfer of the Army of the Potomac across the James, 
after the battle of Cold Harbor, and the capture of that city and the evac- 
uation of Richmond ; or from the middle of June, 1864, to the first of 
April, 1865. 

For nearly a year, therefore, after the sledge hammer blows received 
at Spottsylvania and the Wilderness, and in spite of the best efforts of his 
great antagonist, who continued to strike him at every favorable time and 
place, did Lee and his army successfully defend both Petersburg and 
Richmond. Grant's line, during many months of this time, extended from 
Fort Harrison on the north of the James to the Weldon Railroad south of 
Petersburg, a distance of at least twenty miles. But it is only of that part 
of this line, lying southwest of the Appomattox and which more immedi- 
ately invested the city, that can be properly referred to in this history as 
the Siege of Petersburg. Here the lines were drawn close and the 
approaches regularly made under the enemy's constant fire. 

To give anything like a detailed account of the part taken by the 
Twelfth Regiment in this long and memorable struggle, would be much 
like writing a history of the siege itself, not because it did or suffered 
any more than many other regiments, but because the experience of one 
was very largely the experience of all. It was one contined routine of 
hardship and danger day and night, whether lying in the trenches — over- 
heated by the scorching sun or half filled bv drenching rains — or trying 
to get a little comfort and rest beneath a shower of shells when lying in 
reserve. In fact most of the troops were quite as much or more exposed 
when out of the trenches than in, though the advance works were close 
into the face and eyes of the enemy, the front lines in many places being 
only a few yards apart. 

A siege, to the soldiers of both the investing and defending armies, is 
hard and hazardous, even beyond the hardships and dangers of the aver- 
age service of the march and the battlefield, for it is a continuous wear of 
muscle and strain of nerve that soon break down or seriously affect the 
strongest constitution. No soldier who has once experienced it for any 
length of time, cares to again be counted in on either side. The living 
heroes of Port Hudson and Vicksburg, as well as of Petersburg, whether 

^Ye:c Hampshire Volunteers. 210 

then wearing the blue or the gray, will not be inclined to dispute this 
statement. The unavoidable exposure to nature's elements lengthens the 
death list, from disease alone, far beyond the average rate in camp or field. 
No matter how cold and wet the night, or hot and dry the day, the 
trenches though half filled with mud and water, or blistering hot beneath 
a torrid sun, must be manned. 

Then the men are not only constantly under fire, whether asleep or 
awake, and exposed to dangers on every side, but from the earth beneath 
and the heavens above come engines and missiles of destruction — explod- 
ing mines and torpedoes under foot, and hand grenades and coehorn 
mortar shells overhead — to wound and kill. 

Along the front line of trenches on either side the crack of the sharp- 
shooter's rifle is constantly heard through the day and not unfrequently 
during the night, and the soldier that shows his head above the works, 
does it in reckless defiance of his unerring aim. Men in the outer lines 
or in the rear of the works are also being shot down almost every hour by 
the long range riflemen who from behind some tree, stump, or rock, or 
from salient angle that commands the enemy's front are constantly on the 
watch for a human target and especially for one wearing the uniform of 
an officer 

To protect the men from these sharpshooters as well as from an enfilad- 
ing fire from the enemy's salients, traverse trenches and covered ways are 
constructed, and notwithstanding these, reliefs are obliged to go into and 
out of the works under cover of darkness. 

If a line is to be straightened or a near approach made, a dark cloudy 
night is selected— if stormy all the better — when the men, each with 
gun and spade, go out over the works and lying down, so many paces 
from the front line and three or five from each other, commence digging, 
otten times using at first their bayonets and dippers, so as not to make 
any noise until they have dug a hole big and deep enough to lie down in, 
and then with their shovels slowly and cautiously sink themselves deep 
enough to work upon their knees until they can stand up, when by lateral 
excavation to the right and left a continuous trench four or five feet deep 
is soon dug which, with the dirt all thrown out toward the enemy, affords 
temporary protection for more men that are sent in to work in widening 
the ditch and at the same time strengthening the mound, so that when 
daylight appears the enemy is surprised to find himself confronted by a 
new line of works which is quite sure to prove of no particular advantage 
to him. 

In the same way vedette holes for the infantry pickets are dug, except 
that the spade or shovel is more often absent than present, and when, 
either on picket or fatigue duty, the silent moving and working soldier is 
fortunate enough to get himself " covered" without hearing the " zip" or 
feeling the wind of a minie bullet he thinks himself lucky indeed, for he 
works in constant expectation of a flying visit from one of these unwel- 
come messengers.* ' See anecdote. 

220 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

Having given the reader a brief reference to some of the general fea- 
tures of a siege, that he may better understand and appreciate the sol- 
dier's duty and danger in the work, the author will now proceed to 
give a skeleton sketch of that part taken by the Twelfth Regiment in 
the siege of Petersburg ; and to break the tiresome monotony of historic 
narrative in the usual form, he has thought it advisable to write it in the 
form and style of a diary And, indeed, much of it will be but a copv of 
dailv memoranda made by himself and other members of the regiment 
during the seventv-two davs it was in the immediate front of the city and 
its fortifications. 

June 15, 1864. Not as we hoped, do we find ourselves in our old 
pleasant camping ground that we left a little more than two weeks ago on 
the Bermuda front. It would seem as if the Twelfth had seen enough of 
toil and danger, and suffered loss enough for this month to have a short rest. 
But here we are in front of the enemy again, and from the way they hurried 
us here it looks as if a fight for the possession of Petersburg is close at 
hand. Line of battle formed by our brigade about six o'clock near the 
outer works, exposed to the enemy's shells. Two men wounded in Com- 
pany B. It is reported this evening that our advance of colored troops 
have taken the outer works of the enemy and have captured sixteen guns. 

June 16. Early in line; advance by edge of woods and halt until noon. 
Our brigade in reserve, but we are more exposed to the enemy's artillerv 
than if at the front where they are partially protected. At 2 p. m. the 
regiment was sent out on picket near the river opposite Fort Clifton. 
Quiet with us but fighting in the woods on the left. Sergeant Clarke and 
six men ordered to scout the front ; they found our gunboats shelling the 
fort. Why was not our success of last night followed up before now? 
Hancock's corps has arrived. Fighting all night on our left. 

June 17 Relieved from picket by the Eighth Maine and return to the 
edge of the woods and lay all night. Sharp firing in direction of fort 
after sundown, many sick ; only one sergeant fit for duty in Company C. 
Orders to be ready to move. A very hot day 

June 18. Move toward the city ; form line of battle and advance some 
distance. Again sent on picket near the river and within full view of 
Petersburg which ought to have been in our possession before now 
Another attack, our division engaged. Luck}' for us to be on picket: but 
this evening rinds us in the front line as skirmishers. Timothy La rev, 
Company H, wounded by one of our own shells. 

June 19. On the skirmish line all day. Cloudy but hot. " The boys 
fired away forty rounds of cartridges a piece to-day. popping away at the 
Johnnies ; do not think they ever enjoyed a day in front better. The 
Twelfth advanced thirty yards nearer the rebel works than any other regi- 
ment up to this time." (Captain Barker ) Relieved from the fort after 
dark ; march about three miles toward Bermuda Hundred and bivouac for 
the night. Sergeant Lane, Company G, John P Chi)', of Company I, 

J\V:; r Hampshire Volunteers. 221 

and three more men wounded and sent to the hospital. Clav thought to be 
mortally wounded. While on the skirmish line some of our men got into 
an old barn from which they kept up a brisk fire until the rebels opened 
upon it with their artillery when it was soon vacated. 

June 20. March back across the Appomattox and pitch tents about 
noon in regular order : what does it mean ? About midnight we are 
awakened from our dreams of special duty, " soft job," etc., by orders to 
draw four days rations, take sixty rounds of cartridges and be ready to 
move at 4 p. m. 

June 21. Strike tents and march back again to front of Petersburg- 
Rest in field until dark, and then go into second line of works and remain 
there all night. 

June 22. Lie in trenches all day 

June 23. The Johnnies made an attempt to drive us out last night 
about 12 o'clock, but were glad to get back behind their works. The 
balls came thick and fast. Lieutenant Ricker slightly wounded in face. 
Regiment in trenches until evening, then relieved and bivouac in ravine. 
Sanitary stores distributed. The enemy attacked Hinks's colored troop 
in the night but was repulsed. Shells flying about us "right smart" 
to-day but we mind but little about them. A very hot day Captain Bar- 
ker has to-dav drawn this pen picture of the quarters and their exposure 
to the enemy's fire. *• A hole in the ground eight feet by nine and four 
feet deep with a parapet on three sides two feet above the surface. A 
carpet of cedar sprigs and a roof covering of locust, cedar, and oak 
boughs, and green cornstocks, supported by poles laid across the top of 
the parapet and through which the bullets are constantly rattling, some 
with a low hum and some with a spiteful hiss. * * * * I will ven- 
ture to say that not less than twenty shells have been thrown by and over 
my quarters since writing this letter.'" Sergeant Clarke, of Company C, 
acting as lieutenant writes under this date: "The regiment has been 
under fire twenty-six davs and nights and in five pitched battles since 
leaving Williamsburg about a month and a half ago." John P Clay, 
wounded on the 19th, died to-day in hospital. 

June 24. "Just as we were hoping to get a little rest the enemy opened 
upon us and we were subjected to a tremendous shelling, but almost mi- 
raculously only one or two of the Twelfth injured." (Captain Barker ) 
Enemy attempts to turn our right but were repulsed with a loss of five 
prisoners beside the killed and wounded. John A. Wiggin, Company 
K, wounded to-day and one or two others. Awfully hot day : lucky not 
to be in rifle pits. 

June 25. Still in the ravine. Clothing drawn and issued. At night 
go into front line of works again. Man in Company A wounded. Orders 
to move last night countermanded. 

June 26. In trenches. Rebel battery in a redan right in front of us. 
Another advance of the enemy repulsed. Isaac Strunk, a recruit of Com- 
pany A, killed to-day 

222 History of the Tzcclftli Regiment 

June 27 In trenches to-day, in ravine at night. Oppressively hot. 

June 28. In reserve. Two days in and two davs out is the order of 
duty and relief now Little cooler to-day, thank God. 

June 29. Cool and pleasant morning. Ten men detailed as sharp- 
shooters. Corporal William S. Gray and John Dow, of Company F; C 
F Davis, Company A: A. B. Locke, Company B: H. S. Blake, Com- 
pany E : J Patterson, Company D ; D. W Bogart, Company C : A. G. 
Farrer, Company H: C. S. Gilman, Company G, and E. H. Nudd, 
Company I. 

June 30. Charge made on rebel works at 4 p. m. After our repulse 
the enemy shell us most unmercifully : they evidently mean to learn the 
"Yanks'" better than to try and break their ranks again. Heavy mus- 
ketry and artillery fire for two hours. Thomas Dalton, drummer of Com- 
pany D. killed, and Frank Glancv, Company G, severely wounded in arm. 
Dalton had just been playing cards with some of his comrades. He 
lived but a few minutes after his thigh was shattered by a shell. When 
asked if he wanted to send any word to his mother, who lived in Man- 
chester. N H., he said: "Tell her I am dead," and immediately ex- 
pired. He died and was buried near where he received the fatal wound. 

July 1 Rebels getting familiar ; they open three six-gun batteries 
across the Appomattox to-day for our amusement. This, probably, is in 
retaliation for some siege-gun practice we have been giving them for 
the last day or two. "Petersburg Express" running all night. About 
midnight one of the shells set fire to a house in the city causing quite a 
commotion, could plainly hear the bells ringing, etc. John Gorman, 
Company G, wounded in leg. 

July 2. Move reserve camp farther up the ravine to partially avoid 
the enemy's artillery. To-night go back into trenches. Captain Barker's 
horse killed by a shell.* 

July 3. Quite quiet this Sabbath day Occupy third and then second 
line of works and are severely shelled during the night. Several 
wounded by shells in the regiment. 

July 4. In the first and second lines to-day Quiet day followed by 
another shell storm during the night. John Emerson, of Company F, 
wounded to-dav- 

July 5. Regiment in second line of works all day. From trenches to 
ravine at night. Brave Dennis Kellev, of Company F, shot by a rebel 
sharpshooter, died this morning. He was cleaning his gun only a few 
feet from Lieutenant Ricker when the ball struck him in the head. Com- 
pany F boys will greatly miss him. 

July 6. A good rest in reserve to-day Cool breeze, but very dry and 

July 7 Grateful for a slight shower this morning. Return to rifle 
pits at night. Sergeant Wallace, color bearer, sick and little Sergeant 
Taylor, of Company C, takes his place. 

' Sl'C aurnlotr. 

JVew Hampshire Volunteers. 223 

Julv 8. In third line of intrenchments all day. Sharp firing toward 
night but soon died away One man in Company D wounded. Com- 
pany F draws rations for only seven men to-day 

July 9. In the works until dark. Several wounded. Another very 
welcome supply of much needed articles of food and medicines from the 
Sanitary and Christian Commissions. God bless them. Isaac Stevens, 
Company K, wounded by spent ball. Caleb H. Holt, Company C, 
severely and as feared mortally wounded in trenches. 

July 10. Very hot and dry ; roads like an ash heap. Regiment in 
reserve, many sick and some discouraged ; dark days about this time. 
Captain Barker writes home : '• During the thirtv-eight months I have 
been in the service Richmond never looked so far away as now-" 

Julv 11. Heavy thunder — not from rebel guns but from the heavens 
above, a welcome change indeed, for it promises a shower of refreshing 
rain instead of iron hail, but we get only a slight sprinkling. Company 
G has boiled pork and cabbage ( ?) for dinner ! The missiles of death 
are constantly flying. Colonel Davis, Thirty-ninth Massachusetts, in- 
stantly killed by a shell while sitting in his tent. 

Jul}' 12. Prettv quiet all along the line to-day Sixth Army Corps 
going or gone to Washington. If the -i rebs " get our capital before we 
do theirs, good bye to Uncle Sam. Lying here in the trenches is wear- 
ing the very life out of the men. Give us anything but a summer siege in 

July 13. Chaplain Ambrose, may his life be spared us, is building a 
temporary hospital of boughs and vines. He has been away from the regi- 
ment awhile at corps headquarters. General inspection of brigade this 
afternoon. Picket and artillery firing still kept up. Brisk shelling at 
nine this morning. 

July 14. In ravine. Second and Fifth corps drawn in from the left. 
Leveling down the captured works. 

Juh- 15. In reserve during the day, go into third line of trenches at 
night. Comfortable day 

July 16. Move up to first line after dark. Less firing than usual. 

July 17. Return to third line before light this morning. Can only 
move here with any safety under the cover of night, and then very silently 
as every sound brings a bullet or a shower of them. 

July 18. Lying in reserve all day ; on fatigue duty all night, leveling 
forts in rear of General Smith's headquarters. W O. Little, musician, 
died of disease to-day. 

July 19. Raining hard all day ; the first of any account for several 
weeks, and is gladly welcomed. General Ord assigned to the command 
of the Eighteenth Army Corps in place of General " Baldy " Smith who 
has been relieved from command and sent home to New York. That's 
the way the generals go, but the boys are left to fight on. 

July 20. In second line of rifle-pits. Thomas Edwards, of Company 

224 Hist or v of the Twelfth Regiment 

K, wounded in neck. "Petersburg Express" making its regular trips 
every fifteen minutes to-day again. 

July 21. Fine day, cool and refreshing. Captain Smith and Lieuten- 
ant Miliken return to regiment to-day 

July 22. Only one hundred and fifteen guns in regiment. Company G 
has one sergeant, four corporals, and eight privates for duty ; other com- 
panies in like proportion. From nearly one thousand three hundred and 
fifty to little over one hundred, in an average time of less than twenty 
months, is reduction descending at so rapid a ratio as to be startling at first 
thought and sad to contemplate. 

July 23. Nothing out of the tiresome old routine to-day 

July 24. Sad, sad indeed this Sabbath day : Chaplain Ambrose 
wounded and carried away He was shot by a sharpshooter while up to 
the front attending the sick. We pray that his wound may not prove 
fatal, for heaven can wait better than earth can spare. 

July 25. Rained here part of the night, but clears up this forenoon. 
Regiment in the intrenchments all day. 

July 26. Nothing new, but enough of the old boom and " zip." With 
no sound from cannon or musket for half an hour the sleeping 'would 
wake up for want of a lul-la-by : and half a day's silence would frighten 
both armies. Night and day here is " Shriek of shot and scream of shell 
and bellowing of the mortar." 

July 27 In reserve until dark and then into front line as usual. A 
rainy night, but we manage to keep our powder dry- There are low 
whispers of a great assault in the air which are listened to with ears and 
mouth open, for the boys are ready for anything for a change though it be 
" from the frying pan into the fire." 

July 28. At work all night widening ditches and strengthening works- 
A fire seen and bells heard in Petersburg to-night. In front line again. 
•' An oldish man and a staff officer came into the trenches to-day and 
took several looks through the port holes. While looking through one 
not far from me, a rebel bullet struck close by at which he dodged 
back and smiled. I asked the staff officer who he was and he told me it 
was General Meade. He had no stars on." (Sergeant Lawler.) 

July 29. Relieved from the trenches about 10 p m. by Second Corps 
and no sooner reach our reserve camp than we start with two days rations 
and sixty rounds of cartridges for the left, halting near General Burn- 
side's headquarters about midnight, where we rest until about 4 A. m. 

July 30. This has been a terrible day in more respects than one. 
Rebel fort blown up at 4.40 this morning followed by terrific cannonade 
from our side. Then the assaulting column — part of the Ninth Corps — 
charges into the breach but is driven back and the whole thing is a sad 
failure. There has evidently been a blunder somewhere and a big one. 
Thousands slaughtered for nothing ; and oh ! the dreadful suffering of the 
wounded men lying nearly all day under a scorching sun in that crater of 

^Yezv Hampshire Volunteers. 225 

death. Our corps, the Eighteenth, held in reserve and the regiment conse- 
quently not engaged, but exposed to the rebel artillery. Adjutant Heath 
slightly wounded. Colonel Barker gets up on tip-toe in his stirrups when 
forming the brigade line.* At 5 p. m. return to reserve camp. 

Julv 31. Go into trenches this morning at 3 o'clock, relieving the 
Tenth Corps. Moved in the night into a fort. Johnnies pretty waspish, 
because we gave them a "blowing up*' yesterday One of them said 
to have been actually blown into our lines. 

August 1. Lay in fort to-day lately occupied by Tenth Corps. Flag 
of truce from 9 to 11 A. m. to bury the dead and remove some of the badly 
wounded whom the cruel rebels left thereto die. Eight or ten were found 
still living, having lain on the field uncovered and uncared for ever since the 
battle Saturday morning. " Man's inhumanity to man makes countless 
millions mourn." We are beginning to believe with the other fellow that 
"hell is a military necessity " Tremendous hot. 

August 2. In second line of trenches all day Another hot day. How 
gladly the men would swap their duties here for the labors of the hay-fields 
at home, but how few will ever live to experience the change. 

August 3. In trenches until night when part of the regiment go on 
picket in charge of Captain Johnston. Ordered up at 3 a. m. expecting 
the " rebs " would blow up the fort. Nothing talked about but a blow- 
up now and many of the soldiers in the forts actually live in fear 

August 4. Picket detail comes in this morning and joins the rest of 
the regiment in reserve camp. This is National Fast Day, but bullets 
instead of -pulpits is what is needed most to secure success. If many who 
attend church at home would attend roll-call here at the front, they would 
be doing much more to deserve Divine favor for " faith without works is 

August 5. A loud explosion this afternoon, thought at first to have 
been another fort blown up but proved to be the explosion of a rebel 
magazine. It created a great commotion and was followed by a heavy 
cannonade from both sides with considerable musketry We thought it 
was one of our forts that had been mined and probably the rebels thought 
it was one of theirs, and so the men on both sides sprung to their guns and 
gave us a lively artillery chorus indeed. Our brigade was at once ordered 
to the front under a shower of shells, losing many men, among whom was 
its gallant commander, General Steadman. Our regiment, though 
equally exposed with the rest, providentially escaped without the loss of a 
single man and none were seriously wounded. A shell burst between 
Colonel Barker and Captain Bedee standing not over twenty feet apart, 
but neither was hit by a single piece. Go into front line of works this 

August 6. Colonel Steadman breathed his last this morning from 
wound received last night from rebel sharpshooter. " He won the 
respect of all who knew him and the announcement that Steadman is dead 

* Incident at the end of this chapter. 

226 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

carries sorrow to every heart in the brigade." (Captain Barker ) 
Colonel Murray, One Hundred and Forty-eighth New York, in command 
of brigade now. All day roasting in rifle pits. 

August 7 In front line praying for night when we can be released. 
Captain Barker brigade officer of the day : Captain Bedee sick and goes 
to hospital ; and Captain Sanborn in command of regiment. 

August 8. Again in reserve and thankful for it, even a short respite is 
appreciated. George Pitman, drummer of Company B, had just stepped 
out of a bomb-proof this forenoon, to stretch his legs, when a bullet passed 
close to his side and buried itself in a bank of dirt. He commenced to 
dig it out when the thought occurred to him that if the bullet came from 
the rifle of "Johnny Sharp" another might soon follow and it would be 
dangerous digging much longer in that spot. He had just taken a step 
toward the bomb-proof as another bullet struck so close to the first that it 
must have hit him if he had not moved. But this is only one of many 
similar close shaves that the boys are having almost every day 

August 9. Noticeably quiet along the lines this morning — hope it will 
last till night. Slight shower at sunset, first rain for a longtime, except a 
few drops one night about a week ago. The average mercury mark has 
not been less than eighty-five degrees for the last two weeks and many 
days from ten to twenty degrees higher A great explosion of some kind 
at or near City Point. 

August 10. In the trenches swapping minies with the rebel sharp- 
shooters. Out of two hundred and five men " present or accounted for," 
only one hundred and eighteen for duty, according to this day's report of 
Lieutenant Ricker, Acting Adjutant. Many sick and excused from duty, 
and no wonder either. The explosion at City Point yesterday, proves 
to have been two barges loaded with ammunition. Many killed and 

August 11. In first line again to-day. The customary artillery duel is 
being fought between the opposing armies. The amount of powder harm- 
lessly burned by both sides can be reckoned by the ton. If a man was 
killed or disabled for every shell or projectile thrown, since this siege 
commenced, there would be not a single " Yank" or "Johnny " left now 
to continue the fight, to say nothing about musket balls. 

August 12. Another sharp artillery duel early this morning. Regi- 
ment in reserve. Very hot day. 

August 13. In camp until dark then forty men detailed for picket, the 
rest go into trenches. The enemy gives us a double dose of his shells this 
afternoon ; some of our guns respond, and there is cannon thunder enough 
to shake the skies and frighten all the buzzards out of Virginia. 

August 14. In trenches ; removal to the right in the night. Captain 
Johnston in command of regiment to-day Hot this morning, showery 
this afternoon, raining at night. 

August 15. Hot and sultry in forenoon and a tremendous shower this 

JTezv Hampshire ] r oluntccrs. 227 

afternoon — a real deluge converting the ravine in a short time into a 
rushing torrent of water several feet deep. Great damage done to Com- 
missary and sutler stores and several men reported drowned, according 
to reports as many as seventeen. Luckv for once to be in the trenches 
as being much the safer place of the two, and lucky again in being relieved 
this evening, for the trenches are half full of water. News to-dav of the 
fight between the Alabama and Kearsargc ; hurrah for our side! 
Daniel H. Webber, Companv G. wounded earlv this morning. It is 
feared his wound will prove fatal. Few better boys ever in the regiment 
than he. 

August 16. Removed reserve camp this afternoon about one half-mile 
down the ravine, opposite our place in the trenches, and on a little hill so 
as not to be washed away by another flood. Poor Webber died of his 
wounds to-dav Another good man gone. How many, alas ! how many 
more before this cruel war will end? Another shower this afternoon. 
Water two or three feet deep in some of the trenches, and all of them any- 
thing but comfortable places to stav in — crumbling ditches of mud and 
water, regular mortar beds where the men must lie, or show their heads 
above and die. Oh ' what a privilege is given us here to suffer and die 
for our countrv -> Who \vouldn"t be a soldier?'" 

August 17 In new reserve camp where we moved to yesterday. Hot 
day ; another shower this afternoon. But little firing to-day Both sides 
evidently trying to keep their powder dry 

August 18. This morning about 10 o'clock we were aroused by a 
terrific shelling from the enemy's works in our front : our guns reply and 
for several hours there was a grand pyrotechnic display. Captain Bar- 
ker writes: " It was literally a shower of shells that threatened general 
destruction of everything within its sweep. Though the shells dropped 
and burst all around and some in our very midst, strange to say, none of 
the little iron-clad remnant of the Twelfth were injured. After witnessing 
the scene for about two hours I ' turned in' and went to sleep, and while 
dreaming of a Fourth of July celebration at home, I was awakened by 
an orderly bringing orders to have the regiment under arms at once 
ready to repel an attack which was expected to come after the cannon- 
ade." This is the third or fourth time that this regiment has been in 
almost the very centre of the enemy's fire and escaped with little or no loss. 
It seems as if each one of us left belongs to the elect, and is proof against 
shot and shells. But every day must have its victim, and George H. San- 
born, of Company F, was shot this afternoon by a sharpshooter. He had 
just brought up rations for his company, and had just been warned of his 
danger. Fifty men go out on picket to-night. Showers again this after- 
noon and evening. 

August 19. About midnight both sides let loose again the savage bull 
dogs of war, and they continued to howl and roar till morning, but they 
came not very near us. Regiment in trenches. Lieutenant Batchelder 

228 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

wounded by shell while trying to get a nap in the works the men had 
been strengthening. Raining most all day and night. Everything by 
extremes here in this God-forsaken country, either drying up or drown- 
ing. Everybody wet and cross, why not? 

August 20. Raining and shelling again as usual. We got drenched 
through and through in the trenches last night and buried in the mud, and 
still the heavens are open ; who will ever pray for rain again? We need 
no more Elijahs, but if a second Joshua would come to stay the sun in the 
heavens until we could get dried oft', he would confer a great blessing on 
us all. One of the recruits of Company K, severely wounded by shell 

August 21. Another one o'clock salute from the "Johnnies" this 
morning and our brigade catches it again " hot and heavy." They kept 
the shells flying into our camp until roll-call. A long, loud reveille they 
give us about every morning lately ; they evidently don't want us to 
become sluggards. Toward noon there was a heavy discharge of mus- 
ketry from our lines in front, nobody knows here what started it, but 
probably another attempt to break our lines, or a feint by one side or the 
other to cover some more important movement. Orders for our division 
to move this afternoon ; march about a mile to the left near where the 
fort was blown up and relieve a part of the Second Corps which goes with 
other troops toward the left. But little firing here between the lines. 
Some rain to-day for a rarity. 

August 22. Remain quietly here until 2 p. m. when we get orders to 
pack up expecting to follow the other troops that left yesterday. Move 
about dark thirty paces to the left, and in about two hours more again, 
but this time about one hundred paces toward the right — half the night 
in doing it. " This is military ," as the boys ironically designate all such 
seemingly absurd movements, and there are many of them. 

August 23. Under arms all the time from sunset last night until 2 
o'clock this morning. The rest of the night obliged to stand up or lie 
down in soft beds of mud, and this morning we are ordered into the 
trenches, and all this through another night of rain ! But the long 
wished for and needful change has come we hope at last. The sky is 
getting clear and the glorious sun once more appears and asserts his right- 
ful sovereignty over the deluged earth. 

August 24. In reserve camp to-day. At dark orders came to march 
to Bermuda Front, but are soon countermanded and ordered to be ready to 
move into the intrenchments. Pack up read}' to move to the front or 
rear, but remain in camp all night. Deserters report that the rebel govern- 
ment is conscripting every one old and young who can carry a gun. 
" Cousin Jeff" is getting into a tight place " I rec'on." 

August 25. Break camp at half past four this morning, march to and 
across the Appomattox and halt near our old place in the works at Ber- 
muda front. The boys are all worn down and glad to get out from under 

yew Hampshire Volunteers. 229 

the enemy's guns, if only for a few hours, so that they can have a little 
rest. A hot and weary march, but we are encouraged by the hope of 
being relieved for a while from the sufferings and dangers we are leaving 
behind us. 

From the 15th of June to the 25th of August, a period of seventy-two 
days, inclusive, the regiment had been under fire every day and every night 
but one, and about half of the time in the trenches. The loss had been 
nine killed or fatally injured and fifteen or more wounded.* Among those 
mortally wounded was Chaplain Thomas L. Ambrose who died at Hamil- 
ton hospital near Fortress Monroe, Va., August 16, 1864. His death was 
a great and irreparable loss to the regiment. For sometime during the 
siege he had, with untiring energy, acted in the fourfold capacity of chap- 
lain, surgeon, nurse, and messenger, for the regiment had neither of its 
physicians with it for a while before he was wounded as it did not during 
the remainder of the siege and for a long time afterward. 

The chaplain's early knowledge of medicine was therefore of great 
advantage to him in his care and nursing of the sick. With his own hands 
he improvised hospitals and took charge of them, making of himself a min- 
istering angel to all who came within his reach, his good deeds being 
bounded only by his time and ability to do them. 

Something more than the brief mention already made ought perhaps to 
be written concerning the battle of the ki Mine," or " Cemetery Hill," on 
the 30th of July, 1864. Although the Twelfth took no active part in the 
fighting it was present, ready and waiting to move with its brigade, as it 
was expected and intended that the whole corps should, as soon as a 
lodgment of our own advance troops — General Ledlie's division of the 
Ninth Corps — should be made within the enemy's lines. The idea of min- 
ing the enemy's works first orignated with Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants 
of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and the whole work was engi- 
neered by himself and performed by his regiment under the most discour- 
aging circumstances. But the colonel and his men knew their business, 
being all from the coal regions of their State, and persevered to the end. 

The fort undermined was on Burnside's front and known by the rebels 
as " Elliott's Salient." It was about one hundred yards from our front line, 
and was occupied at the time of the explosion by Pegram's battery and 
the whole of the Eighteenth and a part of the Twenty-second South Caro- 
lina Infantry, amounting in all to two hundred and seventy-eight officers 
and men — all asleep except the guards — that were hurled without a 
moment's warning hundreds of feet into the air, and many of them into 

We quote from Colonel Pleasant's testimony before the "Committee 
on the Conduct of the War " : 

^ty regiment was only about four hundred strong. At first I employed but a 
few men at a time, but the number was increased as the work progressed until at 

* See table of losses, 

230 History of the Tzvcljth Regiment 

last I had to use the whole regiment, non-commissioned officers and all. The 
great difficulty I had was to dispose of the material got out of the mine. I found 
it impossible to get any assistance from anybody; I had to do all the work my- 
self. I had to remove all the earth in old cracker boxes. I got pieces of hick- 
ory and nailed on to the boxes in which we received our crackers and then iron- 
clad them with hoops of iron taken from old pork and beef barrels. * s * 

Whenever I made an application I could not get anything, although General 
Burnside was very favorable to it. The most important thing was to ascertain 
how far I had to mine ; because if I fell short of or went beyond the proper 
place the explosion would have no practical effect. 

Therefore I wanted an accurate instrument with which to make the necessary 
triangulations. I had to make them on the farthest front line where the enemy's 
sharpshooters could reach me. I could not get the instrument I wanted although 
there was one at army headquarters and General Burnside had to send to Wash- 
ington and get an old-fashioned theodolite which was given to me. * * * * 
General Burnside told me that General Meade, and Major Duane, chief engineer 
of the Army of the Potomac, said the thing could not be done — that it was all 
clap-trap and nonsense ; that such a length of mine had never been excavated in 
military operations and could not be ; that I would either get the men smothered 
for want of air or crushed by the falling of the earth; or the enemy would find it 
out and it would amount to nothing. I could get no boards or lumber supplied 
to me for my operations. I had to get a pass and send two companies of my own 
regiment with wagons outside of our lines to rebel sawmills and get lumber in 
that way, after having previously got what lumber I could by tearing down an old 
bridge. I had no mining picks furnished me but had to take common army picks 
and have them straightened for my mining picks. * * * * 

The only officers of high rank so far as I learned that favored the enterprise 
were General Burnside, the corps commander, and General Potter, the division 

The foregoing statement is given here because it is not often found in 
our histories of the war, although it is one of the most interesting and 
important parts of the enterprise and because it shows that the whole thing 
was conceived and performed, from the first suggestion to the final explo- 
sion, without aid or encouragement from any of our generals, except as 
above related. 

Had the undertaking been proposed by some one high in command and 
had, as it probably then would, the sanction of some eminent chief engi- 
neer there would have been no lack of implements, or of negroes to use 
them ; no more than there was a little later when General Butler com- 
menced operations upon that stupendous piece of folly known as " Dutch 
Gap," where many thousands of dollars were expended and scores of 
lives lost with no other effect or result, than to furnish laughing stock for 
the army at the time, and contemptuous ridicule for historians ever since. 

After the mine had been completed and was — considering the time and 
the means — a marvel of success, then commenced a wrangle between 
Generals Meade and Burnside as to how and by whom the last and by far 

SVcw Hampshire Volunteers. 231 

the easier part of the undertaking, if rightly managed, should be accom- 
plished. The latter having taken considerable interest in it from the 
start had drilled one of his divisions — colored troops — to clear the breach 
and intrench themselves upon Cemetery Hill in the rear of the enemy's 
lines and but a few rods from the streets of Petersburg. To this Meade 
objected, but Burnside insisting upon carrying out his original design of 
letting the colored troop take the lead, the matter was referred to General 
Grant who unfortunately decided for Meade — not only as to the troops to 
lead the assault, but also in respect to the plan of attack — both changes 
proving to be for the worse and lessening instead of increasing the 
chances of success. 

Yet General Meade screening himself behind his superior requested of 
the President a Court of Inquiry The Court ignored the main questions 
before them almost entirely, and found that the failure of success was 
chiefly because the division commanders, Ledlie and Ferrero of Burn- 
side's corps, were back in bomb-proofs within the Union lines instead of 
being with their troops at the front. Fault was also found with Burnside 
for not making the necessary preparations, but General Grant had the 
manliness to acknowledge afterward, before a Committee of Inquiry, insti- 
tuted by Congress, that he believed that if General Burnside had been 
allowed to have his way " it zcould have been a success." 

The explosion was more effectual than even the most sanguine had 
dared to hope for Not onlv did it change, almost in a moment, a strong 
rebel work into a big hole in the ground some thirty feet deep, twice as 
wide and six times as long, but it had so frightened and demoralized the 
rebel troops that their lines were vacated for two or three hundred yards on 
each side of the crater, and it was half an hour before their infantry were 
rallied to any purpose, and twice that length of time that their artillery was 
so nearly silent as to do but little damage ! This seems too strange or 
strong to be true, but it is backed up by the best authority — General 
Meade's chief of staff, General Humphreys. 

What an opportunity then was here presented ! And how wonderingly 
woeful was it misimproved. It is certainly not venturing a single step 
beyond the bounds of reason to assert that had Burnside's colored divis- 
ion of over four thousand men been turned loose, with not a single star 
commander among them, each man with a shovel on his back and his 
musket in his hands and with no other instructions than to capture Ceme- 
tery Hill and hold it, Petersburg would have been safely within our pos- 
session within two hours from the word " go." And yet it was such a 
" stupendous failure," as Grant called it, that it disgraced and discouraged 
the whole army. 

It had been in the air for some time that mining operations were going 
on somewhere along our line, and important movements against the 
enemy intended by Grant had been postponed that they might be made 
in cooperation with the explosion of the mine. Even the rebels had got 

232 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

wind of what was going on and there were wild rumors among them 
that the whole of Petersburg was undermined. 

As the time approached for the grand assault that was immediately to 
follow the blowing up of the enemy's works, as an opening signal, every 
preparation was made for the long awaited and important event ; and the 
soldiers, although entirely ignorant of plans and particulars, knew as well 
as the corps commanders themselves, that a heavy storm was brewing 
which was expected to strike with shivering and destructive force the 
enemy's lines. Their hopes increased and their spirits improved, there- 
fore, with every hour, until when the final and fatal morning came almost 
every one of the officers and men were quite confident of success. 

But the unexpected and disastrous result brought with it a reaction and 
corresponding depression of feeling, and the esprit de corps of the army 
was at a lower ebb than at any time since the winter of 1862-3. And 
this despondency increased as the hot, weary days of toil and suffering 
wore slowly on, with the rebel forces again threatening Washington and 
no successful movement of Grant's army, though often attempted, either 
on the right or the left of his long investing line. But the brilliant vic- 
tory of Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, followed in a few days bv 
the successful advance of Grant's right and the capture of Fort Harrison, 
north of the James, inspired new hope and restored confidence in the 
rank and file once more. 

If at last, and for the first time since the war commenced, victory had 
crowned our arms in the " Valley of Humiliation," as it might properly 
be called by the North, there was certainly some ground for hope that the 
tide had turned ; and that, with Grant's bull-dog hold on Petersburg, while 
Sherman like a blood-hound was chasing the rebel forces through new 
fields of conquest further south, and Sheridan ready to strike like a thun- 
der-bolt at any time and place needed, the end of the Southern Confeder- 
acy must soon come. 

The colored troops looked upon their selection to lead the assault as an 
acknowledgement of the confidence their corps commander had in their 
superiority as soldiers, and this touch of pride, strengthened by the encour- 
aging and complimentary words of their line officers in their long and 
special drilling for the heroic effort expected of them, had wrought them 
up to just that pitch of enthusiasm which would be most conducive to its 
success. Every night for some time before the explosion they could be 
heard chanting the war choruses, the most common of which was : 

" We-e looks 1-i-ike men a-a-marchiir' on, 
We looks li-ike men-er-war." 

But, when they were told that the order for them to lead had been 
countermanded, they fell into sullen silence, and their songs of that kind 
were heard no more. After all reasonable chances for success were long 
past and gone, and the crater breach was choked up with white troops, the 

JTczi' Hampshire Volunteers. 233 

black men, as a last resort, were ordered forward, and had they not been 
impeded by white troops in advance, over some of whom they charged, 
would probably have reached the crest of Cemetery Hill. As it was, they 
captured about two hundred prisoners and a stand of rebel colors, and 
recaptured the colors lost by a white regiment in the same corps. " Had 
anyone in authority been present," says Map W H. Powell, U. S. A., 
who was then aide-de-camp to General Ledlie, " when the colored troops 
made their charge, and had they been supported, even at that late hour in 
the day, there would have been a possibility of success." 

In contrast with the disgraceful and cowardly conduct of their division 
commander, and as an amusing incident of the fight, the following is here 
given as related by the officer just quoted : 

As the colored column was moving by the left flank around the edge of the cra- 
ter to the right, the file-closers on account of the narrowness of the way, were 
compelled to pass through the mass of white men inside the crater. One of 
these file-closers was a massively built, powerful, and well formed sergeant 
stripped to the waist, his coal-black skin shining like polished ebony in the 
strong sunlight. As he was passing up the slope to emerge on the enemy's side of 
the crest he came across one of his own black fellows who was lagging behind 
his company evidently with the intention of remaining inside the crater out of the 

way of the bullets, fie was accosted by the sergeant with "■ none ob yo' d d 

skulkin' now," with which remark he seized the culprit with one hand and, lift- 
ing him up in his powerful grasp by the waistband of his trousers, carried him to 
the crest of the crater, threw him over on the enemy's side and quickly fol- 

And let it not be forgotten by posterity, that it was the true courage 
and strong arms of such men, black as well as white, as the negro ser- 
geant who put down the great American Rebellion, though their com- 
manders were oftentimes, as in this battle, hiding in bomb-proofs or 
playing sick, at a safe distance from rebel shot and shell in the rear 

" Fiat justitia ruat ccelum." 

The explosion of the mine was an awe-inspiring sight, and especially to 
those of our troops who, waiting to lead the assault, were so near the rebel 
line that it seemed as if the mighty mass of earth, thrown as by vol- 
canic force two or three hundred feet into the air, was to descend upon 
and bury them up. This danger appeared more imminent because these 
soldiers were down in a ravine near the mouth of the tunnel and much 
lower than the base of the fort. Several regiments broke their lines and 
fell back when the vast mound poised in mid-air, as if held up by some 
unseen power, and then, spreading out like a huge umbrella, began slowly 
to descend. 

To those further back where the Twelfth was stationed the sight was 
more imposing than frightening, and reminded some well versed in classic 

234 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

lore — and there were such among the privates as well as the officers of 
the Union arm}-, — when they saw the whole fort lifted like a hill-top into 
the air, of Virgil's mythological account of the war between Jupiter and 
the Titans when the latter L ' piled Ossa on Pelion " in their mad attempt to 
reach the skies ; and, when the descending and dissolving mass disclosed 
timbers, guns, and men amid big rocks and lumps of clay, it reminded them 
again of Milton's description of the overthrow of another great rebellion, 
instigated by the same rule-or-ruin spirit as that which they were trying to 
put down, when Lucifer and his confederate apostates were hurled head- 
long over the battlements of Heaven. 

Eight tons of powder, placed in the two lateral galleries under the fort, 
and exploded by a fuse extending therefrom live hundred and ten feet 
through and to the mouth of the main gallery, had so mixed up the 
elements of earth and air in giving this grand exhibition of its power, that 
the troops for a while were unable to advance because of the dense cloud 
of dust that arose when the crumbling fragments of the fort fell back to 
earth, and under which they were soon lost to view as they advanced. 
Immediately following the explosion, eighty-one heavy guns and mortars 
and about the same number of field pieces opened upon the enemy's 
works at the right and left of the crater, and for an hour or more there 
was such an air-quaking and earth-trembling artillery chorus as the 
Twelfth boys had never listened to at so close a range before unless it was 
at Gettysburg. 

As soon as the rebel artillery men on either side of the crater had 
recovered from their fright, they opened in reply to our guns, and the 
whole Eighteenth Corps was more or less exposed to their shot and shells. 
Several men were killed or wounded, and some of them in the brigade of 
the Twelfth, but the good luck of the regiment being conversely to its 
size, only two or three of its fortunate few were wounded, and those but 
slightly Just before the enemy's shells got dangerously thick, Generals 
Grant, Meade, and Ord came along in front of the Twelfth conversing 
together. General Burnside soon joined the other three making quite a 
distinguished and conspicuous group. 

Grant for one and the only time that he was ever thus seen by some of 
the regiment had no cigar in his mouth. He was apparently as cool and 
impassive as usual, but Meade and Burnside betrayed some nervousness 
as they looked through their glasses in vain for some sign of success at 
the front. But the visiting shells from the opposite side of the ravine 
soon commenced introducing themselves to the high-ranking commanders, 
and at last became so obtrusively intimate in their attentions that the 
group hastily dispersed to seek some less, or more, inviting situation. 

" Oh ! don't get disgusted so quick now, it's just such treatment as we 
have to stand every day," said one of the boys close in the rear ot them 
as they moved away- The words were loudly spoken and must have 
been heard by some of those for whom they were intended, but if they 

JCczc Hampshire Volunteers. 235 

A-ere, not as much as a glance betrayed the fact. During the conflict the 
Twelfth received orders through the adjutant-general of the brigade to 
move to the left and front to support a battery and while executing this 
Drder General Steadman seeing that his order had been misunderstood by 
lis adjutant gave the command direct to move the regiment to the rear 
and right. While changing its direction to comply with the last order, 
General Ord, commanding the corps, rode up and called out: " What is 
that regiment falling back for?" 

Captain Barker, without waiting or caring to know whether the question 
was directed to him or his brigade commander, stood up in his stirrups and 
half turning his head toward the questioner, loudly exclaimed: "God 
Almighty ' This regiment was never known to fall back, vet, 'without 
orders.'' And judging the few left of the regiment by the spirit of their 
commander, General Ord probably thought he was telling the truth. 

After the war, the owner of the land upon which the rebel fort was 
blown up, fenced off a few acres around the deep depression where it 
had stood — which he very properly called the "crater," — and collecting 
together, in an old negro shanty near by, a lot of broken muskets and 
swords, with shells and shot, and pieces of equipment of every descrip- 
tion, and many other more or less interesting relics of the battle, picked 
up in and around the powder-blown excavation, put them and the grounds 
on exhibition, charging twenty-five cents as an admission fee. 

This place soon became the chief point of attraction for the visitors to 
and travelers through Petersburg ; many of the latter, especially those 
from the North, stopping over a train or a day, on their journey to visit 
the historic spot of which they had read and heard so much. And many 
visited it who were there in, or close witnesses of, the terrible strife of 
July 30, 1864, and among them, General Bartlett, who pointed out where 
he stood in the crater when a piece of shell or solid shot demolished his 
wooden leg. 

This exhihit proved so good and profitable an enterprise for the owner, 
that it was kept up until his death, several years after the war, and con- 
tinued by his son as late as 1880, when visited by the writer, who there 
learned many facts referred to in this history, and who has now in his 
possession a minie-ball that was ploughed up close to the crater by a 
grandson of the original owner of the land, while the writer stood 
talking with his father. 


Bermuda Front and Chapin's Farm ; or, The Last Winter in 


If ever men were thankful, the veterans still left to follow the colors of 
the Twelfth New Hampshire Regiment were, when they found them- 
selves once more at their old camping ground on the north side of the 

The day of their arrival was one of the hottest of the summer, and 
this march hither, though short, was severe, for some were hardly able 
to walk, when they left Petersburg. 

A chance to rest and recuperate had become an absolute necessity to 
the longer maintenance of a military organization. Hard muscular labor, 
inured to hardships as they were, they could have endured for a long 
time, and have been none, or but little, the worse for it; but a constant 
drain on the vital nerve force, for two or three months, was fast trans- 
ferring the men from the trenches to the hospital, and hence the change 
of the Eighteenth Corps, its place being taken by the Tenth. 

Certainly the troops of the former corps had done their full share of fight- 
ing since the first of May. There were now less than a hundred effective 
men answering to the morning roll-call of the regiment, just about men 
enough for one full company, and the officers had been reduced in about 
the same ratio. 

The other regiments of the brigade, still the same as when first organ- 
ized (except the addition of the Eighth Maine, which joined soon after 
Drury's Bluff, and a change of the Second New Hampshire for the Nine- 
teenth Wisconsin made soon after the attack on Petersburg, the Second 
being detailed on provost duty), were all mere skeletons of their original 
strength ; but none that reported less than two for one, as compared with 
the Twelfth, for most or all of them were numerically larger at the open- 
ing of the campaign, and their losses at Cold Harbor were inversely pro- 

But the difference between the duties and dangers incident to army 
life at the siege of Petersburg, and those experienced along the Bermuda 
front, could be fully realized only by soldiers who had served, for any 
length of time, in both places. 

The illustrative comparison of work and play is not sufficiently strong ; 
perdition and paradise would come nearer expressing the difference of the 

New Hampshire \ r olunteers. 237 

situations. Had Lieutenant Huntoon, who was always ready to quote 
Shakespeare, been with the regiment through its part of the Petersburg 
siege, he would probably have said, upon returning to the quiet lines at 
Bermuda : 

k ' Grim visag'd war hath smoothed her wrinkled front." 

Rest, and rest alone, was the order of the day on the 26th, for the 
Twelfth, but the next day the regiment went on picket down by the 
"Old Mill." as the boys used to call it, for they went there many times 
afterward, and it became, during the fall, quite a trading-post for the 
pickets on both sides. 

Here, as soon as they found out that white troops were again on their 
front — for colored ones had been holding the lines — the rebel pickets 
at once manifested a disposition of friendliness, which was so strongly in 
contrast with what the Twelfth boys had been used to on the other side of 
the river, that they hardly knew, at first, what to make of it, and feared 
it was only a ruse to take them prisoners.* 

This was the beginning of friendly relations between the pickets on the 
Bermuda front that lasted, witli but few interruptions, all through the fall 
and winter, and until picket lines between the North and the South were 
no longer needed. 

And better perhaps in this connection, than later when it actually oc- 
curred, may be related an incident, among the many that might be told, 
illustrating the spirit of kindly feeling often manifested between the rank 
and file of the opposing armies. 

One day, when the Twelfth was on picket, and the boys, blue and 
gray, had been freely intermingling at or near the old mill above referred 
to, bathing, wrestling, and playing cards together, a rebel officer came 
along so unexpectedly, that Almon J Farrar, of Company H, who was 
among the rebels upon the opposite side of the creek, had no chance to 
get away without being seen by the officer Quick as thought, the ready 
wit of one of the surrounding Johnnies prompted him what to do, and, 
grabbing one of their bed-quilt blankets, he threw it over the Yankee's 
shoulders ; while another, catching the idea of the first, snatched the blue 
cap off and put his own slouch hat in its place. 

The Confederate officer rode up, was saluted, and passed on, closely 
watched by the half a dozen more "Yankee Blues" hid among the 
bushes but just across the stream. 

This incident will be better appreciated in connection with the fact, that 
at that time orders from rebel officers were very strict against any inter- 
course or communication between the lines. 

The Confederate government officials were about as careful to keep 
their soldiers in ignorance, as the slave holders had been, before the war, 
to keep their slaves in the same condition, and for substantially the same 

* See chapter of " Incidents and Anecdotes." 

238 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

reason ; for the Southern Confederacy, like its chief corner stone, could 
exist only by the ignorance of the laboring- element. 

On the 28th the regiment returned from picket and moving a little 
further to the right toward the James, commenced on the following day to 
lay out their camp in regular order. 

This brought smiles to the faces of the boys, for it was a sign, though 
no surety, that they were to remain a while where they were. It was a 
pretty good sign also, as they had already learned, that they would very 
soon move again. 

But the next day, the 30th, " made assurance doubly sure," as then 
thought, for Lieutenant Shepard started for Norfolk to get the regimental 
baggage. On the 31st the regiment was mustered for paw and this 
again cheered the boys, and brightened the prospect, for thev had been for 
a long time in need of money, some of them not having been paid off for 
six months. Government rations were also getting scarce about this time, 
and they wanted to patronize the sutler a little. 

For the first part of September, little was done by the regiment, except 
picket duty, and the men had a good opportunity to work upon their new 

These were erected of uniform size and style, each one being two feet 
long, seven feet wide, and four feet high, and constructed in log-house 
fashion, the crevices lightly plastered up with red-clay mud, so common 
to Virginia soil. 

With the walls thus completed, and the chimney built, as has been else- 
where described, nothing remained, but the shelter-tent roof, to finish a 
soldier's domicile large enough to accommodate four comrades quite com- 

The builders, half hoping — for there was more of desire than expecta- 
tion in the thought — that they were at work on their winter quarters, 
spared no pains to fix everything up in the most approved style of military 
architecture ; and Captain Barker, noticing with what pride and pains his 
boys were constructing their own habitations, as well as those for himselt 
and other officers, determined to do his full share in making the little 
regimental village as pleasant and attractive in its streets as in its houses. 

So he procured teams and a plow, and turnpiked the company streets, 
ploughed, leveled, and drained the parade ground, and so cleared up and 
improved the surroundings, that the Encampment of the Twelfth New 
Hampshire was one that both officers and men were proud of, as being far 
ahead of any other regiment on the whole line. 

Colonel Guion, of the division staff, who inspected the Twelfth just 
after its quarters had begun to attract attention, sent up to headquarters a 
very flattering report of the condition of the regiment and its " model 

September 10, while the regiment was out on picket, two of the substi- 
tutes deserted to the enemy They belonged to Company G, and were 

J\'czt> Hampshire Volunteers. 239 

prompted to desert, probably, by a proclamation of Jefferson Davis, issued 
just after the failure of the Mine Explosion, offering aid, to get to their 
homes in the North, for all that would come into the Confederate lines. 

This attempt to reduce our forces was prompted, doubtlessly, by the prev- 
alent feeling of depression among our troops at that time, and the addi- 
tional consideration that our army had recently been recruited by a class 
of beings who were willing to accept the invitation thus extended to them. 

But, unfortunatelv for the success of Davis's artful scheme of military 
diplomacy, most of those, upon whom his call would have any other 
effect than to excite ridicule, had already weeded themselves out from most 
of the regiments that were in front of the enemy- 

The old members of the regiment had supposed, that what few recruits 
there were left, after Cold Harbor, could be relied upon, and were sur- 
prised to learn that two more had gone the way of as many score, since 
leaving Point Lookout. And yet there were Judas-hearted ones left, as 
will be hereafter seen. 

September 14, there was an unusually heavy cannonade on the left, 
around Petersburg, from which every day brought sounds of strife, re- 
minding the men of their own recent experience there ; and on the same 
day Captain Barker took his little regimental squad out on battalion drill. 
It was the first for a long time, and made a sad impression upon the minds 
of many of the old originals for they could' but reflect upon what a change 
that less than two years had made in the ranks of the regiment. Mem- 
ory reproduced it. a thousand strong on the plains of Concord ; and now, 
with all the recruits, their eyes saw it more than nine times decimated, 
having less than ten left for every hundred of its former greatness ! 

Sad, woefully sad indeed the change ! 

And so it must have seemed to Colonel Potter who returned to the regi- 
ment the next day for the first time since the battle of Chancellorsville. 

He was warmly greeted by the few still remaining of those he had then 
the honor to command, but they would have thought much more of him, 
had he returned to his regiment as soon as his wound had healed, instead 
of accepting an easier and less dangerous position elsewhere. 

Being the ranking officer he immediately took command of the brigade, 
which was enlarged two days later by the Ninth Vermont, and the Sec- 
ond Pennsylvania (heavy artillery) regiments. 

On the 20th came an unexpected and most unwelcome order, and one 
that made every officer and man of the regiment feel more like invoking 
maledictions than blessings upon everybody and everything, except them- 
selves and their rations, in the whole army 

It was an order to move ! All their work and pains to make for them- 
selves a pleasant and comfortable army home had been thrown away, 
for now they must unroof and vacate. 

After one more, and the last, dinner in their new, but soon to be old, 
quarters, which was eaten with too much of ill temper to favor quick 

240 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

digestion, the men shouldered their all, and grumblingly marched two 
miles to the rear toward Bermuda Landing. Here a new encampment 
had been laid out for Colonel Potter's command which was on the same 
day detached from the Eighteenth Corps to form a nucleus of a provisional 
brigade for the reception and discipline of new recruits, who immediately 
began to come in, and report for duty 

These new regiments were made up chiefly of three months, or " hun- 
dred days men " as they were called. The)' were also often derisively re- 
ferred to by the old soldiers as " eleventh hour men," who had come out 
to see the fun after the most of the work was done. The) T had got their 
"greenbacks" in big bounties, and now wanted a full share of the 

By the 21st the brigade had increased to nine regiments, and as the old 
ones had recently been paid off, and the new ones came amply supplied 
with money, the sutler had a most thriving trade, taking in, some days, 
more than four hundred dollars. 

Colonel Potter, finding himself at the head of quite a large command 
with a prospect of its continuance for a while, commenced selecting his 
staff officers, several of whom he took from his old regiment. 

Captains Heath, Johnson, and Prescott were appointed assistant inspector 
general, assistant provost marshal, and aide-de-camp, respectively, of the 
brigade. Captain Bedee was also selected as one of the staff. 

On the same day Francis Reed, of Meredith, N. H., was commis- 
sioned chaplain of the regiment, and a few weeks later reported to 
Captain Barker for duty But his military pastorate was of short duration, 
and so little did he become acquainted with the men, or show himself 
fitted for their companionship, that, if remembered at all by any of those 
who may read this brief reference to him, it will be with a smile. 

He remained with the regiment but a few weeks, and then bade good 
bye to " Dixie " forever, 

In a few days the men had fixed up comfortable quarters again, but 
had scarcely got them completed before the brigade was ordered forward 
to the line of works to take the place of the Eighteenth Corps which, with 
the Tenth, had been ordered across the James. 

This was on the 28th, a beautiful day, but the weather was much pleas- 
anter than the feelings of the men for having to vacate their quarters a 
second time before fairly located therein. 

The Twelfth, upon returning to the front line, occupied the quarters 
that the Thirteenth New Hampshire had just left. 

On the 29th occurred the battle of Fort Harrison, or Chapin's Farm, 
the enemy being driven back, and the fort and a portion of his line 
captured and held in spite of the most determined efforts of the rebel 
forces to retake it. 

Fort Harrison was the most formidable work on the rebel line, north 
of the James, from Chapin's Bluff on the river to Fort Gilmer 

New Hampshire Volunteers. 241 

It was captured at quite a heavy loss, especially of officers who were 
picked off by the rebel sharpshooters in their advance over a wide space 
of unprotected ground, leading up to the fort, which was located on quite 
an elevation. 

Although the Twelfth took no part in this engagement as a regiment, 
yet several of its men, acting as sharpshooters, were foremost as skir- 
mishers in the fight, and contributed largely to the successful attack upon 
the fort. 

A full and true account of this battle, which the writer has never yet 
had the pleasure of reading, would give facts that would show how 
greatly the country was indebted to a little band of ten or fifteen of these 
sharpshooting skirmishers, detailed, months before from nearly as many 
different regiments, for this important victory Without their aid in 
silencing the guns, and their heroic efforts in being the first to scale its 
parapets, the fort might not then have been taken. 

In fact, according to their own account, they actually captured the fort 
itself alone and single handed, and had they been at once properly sup- 
ported there would not have been so severe a contest to hold it, for the de- 
fenders had time to recover from their surprise and rally for the final 
hand to hand struggle before an)' of our other troops got up to the works. 
Several who had been detailed as sharpshooters from the Twelfth the 
June before were in the line of skirmishers, and William S. Gray and 
Almon J. Farrar were among the few who drove the rebel gunners from 
their guns and entered the fort. 

Another member of the regiment was of great service in helping to win 
the victory in this fight, although not nearer than a mile or more to the 

On the first day of October, while the paymaster, who had at last made 
his appearance, was engaged in paying oft' Company A, orders came to 
move across the James river at once ; and so the other companies had to 
go without " greenbacks'' a while longer. 

The regiment rejoined its old brigade in the Second Division of the 
Eighteenth Corps about 4 o'clock p. m., and soon after went back about a 
mile from the front and encamped for the night. The next morning the 
brigade was temporarily attached to the Engineers Corps and went into 
Fort Harrison to work with the spade in helping to turn it against its 
former occupants, and so far strengthen it as to make any attempt at re- 
capture a vain one. 

This work being accomplished, the regiments were next set at work 
throwing up a new line of works on the left, between the fort and the river. 
Another attack by the enemy was expected every hour, and hence the 
troops were required to work day and night until the line was as strong 
as the reconstructed fort with which it connected. 

The Twelfth worked some nights until midnight in taking their turn 
with other regiments, so that some could sleep while others worked. 

• See Signal Service, etc. 

242 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

The first three days of the month had been rainy, the first especially so, 
and digging in Virginia soil, after a heavy rain-fall, is not the most desir- 
able of occupations as many an old soldier can testify ; and it becomes 
still less so when obliged to work, not only in the rain, but under the fire 
of the rebel gunboats, where the laborer, like the mother hen in fear of 
hawks, has to watch the sky, while he digs the earth, to see where the 
next two-hundred-pound shell is going to strike. These gunboats came 
down to Chapin's Bluff every day to salute the Yankees. 

After the rain, it cleared oft' cold for the season, and the men, having 
little to protect them from the weather, suffered considerably from the 
effects of the sudden change. 

October 7, the regiment moved to the right of Fort Harrison, and into 
the trenches. But scarcely had the regiment got into position there, 
when an order came for it to report to the Third Brigade of the First Divis- 
ion of the corps ; and the next day the boys were agreeably surprised to 
find their new brigade in command of their old and well tried captain and 
leader, now Lieut. Col. Thomas E. Barker ! 

It was quite a jump from captain by rank to brigadier-general by 
position, and if he did not feel proud himself, the boys of his regiment, 
and especially those of his old Company B, did for him. But this pro- 
motion was but a tardy and partial recognition of deserving merit, for. 
long before, he should have worn the golden-leaves in place of the brass- 
bars that he had long and highly honored. 

His brigade consisted of the Second and Twelfth New Hampshire, the 
Fifty-eighth and One Hundred and Eighty-eighth Pennsylvania, the 
Twenty-first Connecticut, and Ninety-second New York regiments. 

These six regiments could once have mustered a little army of five or 
six thousand men ; now only an aggregate of remnants amounting to little 
more than as many hundred. Yet it was a larger force than that com- 
manded by General Stark on the victorious field of Bennington, and every 
man was a battle-scorched veteran. 

The brigade occupied the trenches, at this time, between Forts Harrison 
and Gilmer, the latter being still held by the enemy. 

The 10th was noted as a day for rebel desertions. It was a very foggy 
day, and the sallow-faced supporters of the crumbling Confederacy came 
into our lines by tens and scores. It seemed to be a concerted movement. 
A company of about fifty started to come in, but were mistaken, in the fog, 
for an attacking force, fired upon by our brigade, and driven back. 

The following day, after two or three vain attempts, the paymaster suc- 
ceeded in giving to every man, present for duty in the regiment, the 
amount in paper currency that was shown to be due him upon the muster 

It was the price of toil, danger, and suffering, and even, in many in- 
stances, of blood itself. Yet the soldier received but little more than one 
half of the stipulated price for his services and sufferings, and no interest 

JVew Hampshire Volunteers. 243 

for his wages, long overdue ; while the bond-holder, for his government 
securities, purchased with the same depreciated currency, was receiving 
his semi-annual interest, as he afterward received his principal, in gold. 

At 4 p m. of the 9th, the brigade was ordered to extend its line so as 
to relieve the Third Division, and later, about dark, while a very cold 
rain storm was chilling the men to their very bones, it moved still farther 
to the right, halting in the rear of the Tenth Corps, one division of which 
it relieved in the trenches during the night or early morning. But before 
many hours another order was received by Colonel Barker for him to re- 
port with the Twelfth Regiment to Colonel Potter, on the Bermuda front, 
by 10 o'clock the next day ; and in compliance therewith, the regiment re- 
crossed the James on the 14th, and rejoined the provisional brigade that it 
had left fourteen days before ; the Twelfth was glad again to be between 
the James and Appomattox rivers, where more peaceful relations seemed 
to exist between the lines than anywhere north of the one, or south of 
the other This line, which since September 20 had been under the 
command of Colonel Potter, was on the 17th transferred to the official 
supervision of Gen. Charles K. Graham, who took command of the 
Third Division, of the Third Corps after General Whipple's death at 
Chancellorsville. and who was taken prisoner at Gettysburg. 

There had been for some time a growing apprehension in the mind of 
Colonel Potter that the enemy would attack his line, and the return of the 
Twelfth to his command was in compliance with his 'request that his old 
regiment might be returned to him. General Weitzel, then commanding 
the Eighteenth Corps, in asking permission of General Butler, remarks: 

I think I had better send the Twelfth New Hampshire, Potter's old regiment, 
over to him at once. That place is weak, and this regiment would give Potter 
much confidence. Shall I send it ? 

To which Butler, at 10.05 p - M - °f trie 13th, replied: "Send the 
Twelfth New Hampshire to Potter at once." 

Among other things that had awakened the colonel's suspicions were 
these : A rebel deserter had reported to him that the enemy was reenforc- 
ing in his front, several regiments having come within a few days ; and 
General Butler had forwarded to him the following : 

The signal officer on your left [Cobb Hill tower] reports that the enemy have 
been up in a balloon, making observations on your line, and signaling to parties 
below. Keep a sharp lookout and advise me of any movement. 

During the night of the 18th the brigade was called up twice to resist a 
supposed attack on our lines, but it proved to be only the rebel troops 
firing at their own men who were deserting from their lines, and coming 
over to ours. These deserters, who were getting to be encouragingly com- 
mon for us, all told the same story about destitution and increasing de- 
moralization in their army They said, " The Rebellion is about played 

244 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

out." From such reports, received almost daily from the Confederate 
deserters, when there was any chance for them to get into our lines with- 
out being killed, the courage of the Union troops was constantly strength- 
ened ; for, through it all, they plainly saw a most welcome beginning of a 
still more welcome and glorious end. 

A mighty jubilee chorus of a hundred guns each from both the armies 
of the Potomac and the James on the 20th, sounded out through the clear 
air and gladened the hearts of the listening " boys in blue " for they knew 
it to be in honor of Sheridan's second great victory in the valley This 
was the most signal and brilliant victory of the Union arms for the whole 
war It electrified the whole North. Sheridan's great victory over Early, 
just one month before at Winchester, had made him renowned ; but his still 
greater victory over the same Confederate commander, who had been 
heavily reinforced, at Cedar Creek, where his inspiring presence, at the 
eleventh hour, turned the broken and struggling masses of a defeated and 
retreating army into solid columns of such irresistible power as to crush 
down and destroy every opposing force, and win such an overwhelming 
victory that the enemy never again mustered his forces for battle in the 
valley of the Shenandoah, placed him in the highest rank of the great 
generals of the war upon either side. 

"And this victory," in the words of an able writer, "snatched from 
the jaws of defeat, affords one of the very few instances in which an 
army, thoroughly beaten in the morning, is even more thoroughly victo- 
rious in the evening, though it has meantime been reinforced by but a 
single man." He might have said the only instance. 

But to come down and back to where we belong, and shun the dancer- 
ous example of the great Grecian mathematician, Thales, who came near 
breaking his neck by having " his head among the stars while his feet 
were on the earth," let us continue to record a few more of the most in- 
teresting items that belong in this chapter of the history of the " New 
Hampshire Mountaineers." 

And to put the reader in good humor again, the author will recommence 
his narration of historic events with an amusing anecdote connected with 
the firing of the salute above referred to. 

After the artillery guns and mortars of all kinds and sizes had stopped 
their roaring upon both sides — for the salute was a shotted one to which 
the enemy replied — a musket fusilade was heard in Colonel Potter's 
brigade just to the left of the Twelfth. In a few moments a staff officer 
went dashing by, and as he rode up to the commander of the Two Hun- 
dred and Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment, which had joined the army for 
the first time but a few days before, and from which the noise seemed to 
come, he saw the whole regiment, of about a thousand men, blazing away 
at their very best over the earthworks. 

" What in h — I arc you doing here," yelled out the staff officer, as soon 
as he got within speaking distance of the colonel, who was encouraging 
his men to fire as rapidly as possible. 

SVew Ham-pshire Volunteers. 245 

•• Firing a salute, sir, and I have had no orders to stop yet." 

The headquarters official saw it all at a glance, and answered at first 
with a long, loud laugh which made the green commander turn red in the 
face, for he began to mistrust that he had made a big mistake somehow, 
and immediately ordered his men to cease firing. When he found out 
that his was the only regiment that was ' % firing a salute" along the line, 
so far as he could see or hear, and that even the artillery was silent, the 
blood receded somewhat from his head, and a shade of paleness passed 
over his countenance, as he began to apologize and excuse himself by re- 
peating that he had received no orders to stop and in his earnestness had 
not noticed that the other regiments had done so. At this the staff officer 
had another hearty laugh at seeing that the colonel was still in ignorance 
of his mistake, and then kindly explained to him that the order for a 
shotted salute was meant for the artillery alone, and not for the infantry, 
and that no other regiment, except his, could claim historic honors for 
having taken such an active part. " Firing a salute," was the joking re- 
ply to many foolish inquiries among the boys after that. 

October 27 another attempt was made by General Grant to get posses- 
sion of the South Side Railroad on the extreme right of the enemy's line of 
defense ; and to assist in this General Butler was ordered to make a dem- 
onstration, with the troops under his command, against Richmond on 
the north side of the James. 

On the same day, either as a part of the general plan, or simply to get 
the new troops used to " war's alarms," Potter received orders to make a 
feint of attacking the enemy in front of him on the Bermuda line. 

The troops were ordered out in light marching order, lines of attack 
formed with the Twelfth in front, deployed as skirmishers at half distance, 
and supported by the new regiments. 

After dark the brigade was ordered forward over the works, and the 
Twelfth, with only sixty men — a few being out on picket — advanced to 
about half way between the lines, where it was halted, as the men 
supposed to rectify the supporting lines, preparatory to a charge. But 
after waiting there for what seemed a long time in silence and dark- 
ness, except as a few scattering shots from the enemy's pickets just in 
front gave warning that they were on the alert, the order came to fall 
back over the intrenchrrients again. 

Some of the "hundred-days men" were so badly frightened that they 
broke away from the ranks, when they found they were to go outside 
of the front line of works, and ran for the rear. 

About this time some of the southern families who had remained inside 
our lines on pretense of being Union people were arrested upon suspicion 
of giving information to the enemy, and the ladies brought in ambulances 
before Colonel Potter, who after questioning them awhile, ordered them 
reconveyed to their homes. Evidence, of any weight, against them was 
wanting, and their own statements were neither contradictory nor incon- 

246 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

sistent with their assured innocence. And yet these very women, as be- 
lieved by man}', were in daily communication, by signs, with the enemy 
It seems that Potter himself was far from satisfied that they were as loyal 
to the flag as they ought to be, for a few days later Captain Johnson, of 
his staff, conveyed orders to one of these families by the name of Barr, to 
remove from Port Walthall, where they then resided, to some other local- 
ity not so plainly seen from the enemy's lines. 

November 4 the national colors, received by the regiment on the first 
day of September, 1863, at Point Lookout, were sent home ; and four days 
later the soldiers, who were old enough, as well as the legal voters of all 
the States not in rebellion against the government, exercised their right of 
choice as to who should be president of the United or Disunited States of 
America for four years from March 4, 1865. 

It was probably the most important presidential election ever held in this 
country- It was for the people of the loyal states to decide at the ballot- 
box whether the war was a failure, as had been formally and solemnly de- 
clared in the platform of one of the two political parties, and the demand 
for an "immediate cessation of hostilities " was to be obeyed by Grant, 
Sherman, and Sheridan in the field, and already fast driving the enemy 
into their last ditch, or whether the precious blood shed, and the priceless 
lives sacrificed on the altars of constitutional liberty and Christian free- 
dom should not be in vain, but the flag of our fathers, so long the symbol 
of the free on every land and every sea, should continue to wave in undis- 
puted sovereignty long after the causeless rebellion of their patricidal 
sons should be crushed out by the loyal legions of the North, and no 
memory or mark of it remain except upon the darkest page of our 
country's history 

A large majority of the North believed, as the result showed, that upon 
the ballot-box, even more than the cartridge-box depended the fate of the 
Nation ; and the Confederate officials at the South not only felt, but 
thoroughly well knew, that their only hope would disappear forever upon 
the reelection of Abraham Lincoln. 

McClellan had been slow and easy with them when at the head of the 
Army of the Potomac, and they hoped " to be let alone," as Jefferson Davis 
had before requested, if he should become commander-in-chief of the 
army and navy. 

" It is too good news to be true," said a rebel officer when told that 
McClellan had been nominated at Chicago. He seemed to think if he 
had been selected as the Democratic standard bearer, he would carry both 
the conservative and ultra or copper-head elements of the party, and be 
almost certain of being elected. "And suppose he should be?" in- 
quired the Union officer, who had met the other between the lines for the 
purpose of exchanging newspapers. "Why then this war would end," 
replied the hopeful Confederate, and what he meant by that was too well 
understood to need further inquiry 

A'czc Hampshire Volunteers. 247 

A few weeks before election, an intelligent rebel sergeant who had 
come into our lines was asked, what effect the reelection of Lincoln would 
have upon the rank and file of the southern army " It would leave more 
rank than file," was the quick and witty response, meaning that there 
would soon be few but officers left. 

Some of the leading anti-war Democrats of New Hampshire, and other 
states bitterly opposed giving the soldiers a right to vote in the field, for 
they well knew that they would " vote as they shot," against the enemy, 
and thev feared the result in the general count. 

The vote in the Twelfth stood 86 for Lincoln and 39 for McClellan. 
In other New Hampshire regiments the vote was as follows : Eleventh, 
157 to 63 ; Thirteenth, 104 to 41 ; Sixth, 100 to 18 : and in the Second 
out of sixty-nine present and voting in the field, only four voted for Mc- 
Clellan. The Tenth alone voted for " Little Mack." 

The Provisional Brigade at this time consisted of the Twelfth New 
Hampshire, two small detachments — one each from the the Ninth Ver- 
mont and the Thirteenth New Hampshire — and five Pennsylvania (new) 
regiments. The vote, as officially returned by Colonel Potter, was 28 for 
Lincoln and 1 for McClellan in the two detachments, and a majority of 
937 for Lincoln in the whole brigade ; the new regiments averaging about 
six hundred men each, and their vote standing nearly two to one for the 
prosecution of the war 

The vote in the Army of the Potomac, as reported by states to the 
Secretary of War, by General Grant, is here given : 

Maine, total vote, 1,077; Lincoln's majority, 1,143. New Hampshire, 515 ; 
Lincoln's majority, 279. Vermont, 102; Lincoln's majority, 43. Rhode Island, 
190; Lincoln's majority, 134. Pennsylvania (seven regiments to hear from), 
11,122; Lincoln s majority, 3,494. West Virginia, 82; Lincoln's majority, 70. 
Ohio, 6S4 ; Lincoln's majority, 306. Wisconsin, 1,065; Lincoln's majority, 
633. Michigan, 1,917; Lincoln's majority, 745. Maryland, 1,428; Lincoln's 
majority, 1,160. United States Sharpshooters, 124; Lincoln's majority, 89. 
New York, 305 ; Lincoln's majority, 113. Majority for Lincoln, 8,208. 

In one officer's diary, under date of the 9th, is the following entry : 
"Great cheering all along the line, for the news comes to-day that the 
Union is safe." The rebels heard it, well understanding its meaning, and 
their bands commenced playing " Dixie" ; to which ours responded with 
"Yankee Doodle," " Red, White and Blue," and "Rally Round the 

It is said that the president of the Southern Confederacy considered his 
fate sealed from the moment he first learned of the result of the election. 
If so, he reasoned wisely. 

One thing that caused considerable grumbling among the soldiers dur- 
ing their tarry at Bermuda front, was being roused up every morning at 
4 o'clock and obliged to stand to arms shivering in the cold rain or frosty 

248 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

air until light enough to no longer fear an attack of the enemy Aside 
from this their duties were not hard for the old soldiers, and they had 
more reason to be thankful than otherwise for their situation. 

For more than a month, or from the 14th of October, when the regiment 
returned to the south side of the James, until the 17th of November, 
nothing of historic interest, not already referred to, occurred, unless men- 
tion be made of the return of the regimental baggage from Norfolk 
where it had been so long stored, and the arrival of several loads of 
sanitary supplies and boxes for the boys sent them from home. 

But their short and swift run of good luck was about to receive a sudden 
and serious check. 

About 8 o'clock on the evening of the 17th of November the enemy 
made a stealthy attack upon our picket line, breaking through and cap- 
turing seventy-five or more prisoners, among whom were thirty-seven 
belonging to the Twelfth. It was a most unfortunate affair for the regi- 
ment, for it left it with but a few more men than enough to form a good- 
sized sergeant's squad. 

The attack was made at the "gate-way," as it was called, it being 
the only place along the whole line between the rivers where the enemy 
could have made an assault with any reasonable chance of success. It 
was the mouth or neck of the " bottle " into which Butler was driven after 
the battle of Drury's Bluff, and which was made historic from General 
Grant's reference thereto in his final report after the war In fact, the 
shape of the line at this place, bulging out as it did toward the enemy, 
more resembled the top of a bottle with the neck knocked off. 

At this only available point of attack for the enemy, because of a deep 
ravine that ran along the rest of the line, old and reliable troops had 
always been posted, and, at this time, it was picketed by men from the 
Twelfth. The regiment was so reduced in numbers that its detail for 
picket duty that day was too small to reach across the whole exposed 
space without leaving the line too weak, and so enough men from the 
new regiments, stationed upon either flank, were deployed in right and 
left connection with the Twelfth to cover the full distance. 

The enemy, being well aware that our troops were up and early on the 
alert every morning, as before mentioned, concluded to test our vigilance 
at the other end of the day ; and so they made their attack just after 
dark, instead of just before light. Although the rebels made quite a 
vigorous assault, the Twelfth men were not inclined to think it anything 
more than a lively " corn-popping" entertainment for the evening, as fre- 
quently had occurred between the lines when they were in front of Peters- 
burg, until, to their great surprise, they found the rebels in their rear as 
well as their front, and loudly demanding their surrender 

The new troops, fresh from fields of peaceful husbandry, instead of 
those " sown with shot and bladed thick with steel," concluded — 

" When the bullets began to fly, 
That they must either run or die; " 

\ew Hampshire Volunteers. 249 

and, being much more willing to use their legs than lose their lives, they 
struck out briskly for the rear ; some of them not stopping, it was said, 
until they reached City Point. 

Lieut. Charles F Towle, in command of the detail from the Twelfth, 
thinking, from all he could learn bv sounds coming to him from the right 
and left, that the rebels were flanking him, ordered his men to fall back ; 
but hearing nothing to confirm his belief, as he brought them to a halt a 
few yards to the rear (the flight of the new troops leaving nothing for 
the enemy to do but to silently circle around his command), he ordered 
them to advance again. Both orders were plainly heard by the attack- 
ing rebels, who were close upon the tlanks of the Twelfth line when it 
fell back, and who were glad to hear the order for our men to advance, 
for its only effect was to give them more prisoners, and of a kind that 
they would much rather guard than fight. 

Before some of the men had regained their posts they were entirely 
surrounded, and most of them captured. A few, by dropping flat into the 
ploughed furrows of a field that had been cultivated, until the rebels 
passed over them from their rear, and then rolling from one furrow to 
another until far enough away to risk a run in the darkness, managed to 

In the mean time officers and men from the new regiments came 
back to the reserve, then under the command of Captain Fernal, with 
all sorts of stories, but nothing could be heard from the Twelfth men, 
none for some time making their appearance, and what the exact situa- 
tion at the front was, no one could tell. That there had been a serious 
break and a regular, or rather irregular, stampede of the " raw recruits" 
was only too evident. But what had become of the fifty or more officers 
and men from the Twelfth, was the question that Colonel Potter was 
getting momentarily more impatient to have answered by someone more 
reliable than any of the badly frightened hundred-days men whom he 
had seen ; for not only was he anxious for the fate of his old regimental 
boys themselves, but still more so, because he well knew that upon their 
safety depended the security of the line. 

,k Where are the Twelfth boys?" he would ask, as he walked up and 
down in front of his quarters. " If the line is broken, as all these cow- 
ardly run-aways are telling, why do n't we hear something from the 
Twelfth?" " We shall before long, if it is true," replied Colonel Barker, 
who, with Captain Bedee and one or two other staff officers, was waiting 
and listening, " and the very fact that we don't," added Captain Bedee, 

"is evidence enough for me that it's all a d d lie." "So I say," 

continued Barker 

But Potter was still fearful of what the situation might be, and was 
about to send a competent officer forward to investigate, when news came 
from the " Mountaineers," as written by the messenger himself, Sergt. 
Charles A. Place, and here copied : 

250 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

At Bermuda Hundred, on the night of the 17th of November, 1S64, the 
rebels thought the}- would straighten their picket line ; for in so doing it would 
bring a portion of their line where ours then was, and that portion was then 
occupied by a detail from our regiment. 

The enemy charged both right and left, and their intention was to capture u.s 
all, which, through the unreliance of green troops upon our flanks, they nearly 
accomplished. C. F Towle, officer of our picket detail, ordered us, after a 
while, to fall back, which we did, with the exception of the killed and wounded. 

We had retreated but a short distance when the order was given to advance, 
every man to his post. I took my former position and commenced firing, when 
I was ordered to surrender, the Johnnies being all around us ; but I had no 
notion of going to Richmond as prisoner, so I turned and ran from them, and 
heard one say, "shoot the son of a b h," and a volley of bullets came whiz- 
zing about me. I kept on and came in over the works without injury, and 
reported to Captain Fernal. 

I think I was the only man that escaped capture, that advanced to our former 
position after having retreated. 

I told Captain Fernal the result, and we made our way to Colonel Potter's 
headquarters and told him that our pickets were all captured, and that the enemy 
occupied our line ; but he did not credit my story, and told the captain to put 
me under arrest. The captain did not, however, but sent me into his tent, and 
told me all would be right, for he knew full well, that I was telling what I believed 
to be true, whether it was or not. 

Colonel Potter then sent out Captain Bedee, who took along with him Ser- 
geant Bachelor, of Company E, to learn the truth of the matter; but they did 
not return to report, being captured like the rest. After this he sent out the 
regiment, or what was left of it, but their yeconnoissance only proved that the 
enemy held our line, as I had reported, and that to retake it would require a 
severe contest. 

When Captain Bedee left headquarters for the picket line, he said, in 
reply to some remark of caution made to him : " I'll look out for myself, 
never fear; and I'll soon let you know what's up and where the Twelfth 
is, unless I have to go to Richmond or Hell to find out." After his 
exchange and return to the regiment, he was asked which place he had 
been to. '■'■Both" was his quick and emphatic reply, and it was full of 
meaning ; but no one can have a realizing sense of its full significance who 
has never been a visitor at the first named place, and supplied with free 
board and lodging there at " Libby's Hotel," as the boys used to call it. 

Colonel Potter no sooner learned that his line, with many of his old 
regiment, had been captured by the enemy, by the cowardly action of the 
new levies from Pennsylvania, than he resolved that they should be made, 
if possible, to retake it. How well they succeeded will be seen from the 
following account of the capture of our line, and the first attempt to 
retake it, from the pen of the late Capt. J H. Prescott : 

When Colonel Potter returned, and was placed in charge of a provisional 
brigade which held a part or the whole of the Bermuda front, I was detailed as 
an aide to him, and remained with him for some time. 

yew Hampshire Volunteers. 251 

While here, there were a great many hundred-days' men, from Pennsylvania, 
sent out, and three or four regiments of them to Colonel Potter's command. 
Thev were not used much, except for drill and fatigue, and knew nothing of 
service in the field. 

About in the centre of Potter's line was an open field, running all the wa}' 
from our line to that of the enemy, and our picket posts on this field formed 
nearly a half-circle in our line, the advance part of the arch reaching into the 
woods or underbrush. One night the "rebs" took it into their heads to 
straighten this line, and they did it, coming in as they did, from both sides of 
the circle where the new troops had been stationed. The circle part being the 
most exposed, old and tried troops were stationed upon it, and this night it 
was held by the Twelfth boys, nearly all of whom were captured, almost before 
they knew it. 

A new, temporaiy line was formed in the night quite close in front of our breast- 
works, and some of these new troops had to be called into service to man the 
new line. When it came daylight Colonel Potter sent me out to advance this 
new picket line so that it should become straight with the rest of our line, as it 
now bent back instead of forward, as before the break. I went out and found a 
heavy picket line with strong reserves, and ever) 1 man flat upon the ground. 
I went to the right, and walked the whole length of the line, and gave my 
orders, letting them know what was to be done. I then returned to the 
centre of the line, and gave the command and signal to move forward. The 
men got up and started pretty well. The enemy, at this, of course opened fire, 
and at the very first shot every man fell flat again upon the ground. But this was 
not the worst, for as the firing from the rebel line increased, the men became 
more heightened and the line began to break, some crowding to the rear, and 
some getting up and running in the same direction. 

No sooner did they see one coward run than others, who dared to rise up, 
thought it a good example to imitate, and commenced to flee also. I had to yell 
and rush along the line, and drive back those making for the rear. Officers were 
as bad as the men. First a sergeant, then a corporal, and then half a dozen 
privates would break from the line, and soon a lieutenant came rushing along, 
half scared to death. I caught him by the collar, and drew my sword as if to 
run him through. What I said to him any old soldier can easily imagine. He 
begged of me not to kill him; and I told him I would not if he would return to 
his place and do his duty. This he promised to do, for he was evidently more 
afraid of me than rebel bullets, that by this time were flying thick and fast. 

In this way I saved a general panic. I finally got the men in line again upon 
their bellies, picking them out of the hollows and bushes where they had hid 
and sought shelter like chickens frightened by a hawk. 

I thought it best not to attempt trying it again with that line ; so, as soon as 1 
had restored confidence enough in the officers and men to dare to leave them, I 
went in and reported to Colonel Potter 

He had been on the breastworks, and saw all that had happened, and had 
already sent for some experienced troops. He told me that 1 had done all I 
could, and that we would wait for troops that were good for something. 

The boys joked me for a long time about my danger of a court-martial for 
drawing my sword on an officer. It was only fate, as it seems to me, that pre- 


History of the Twelfth Regiment 

served me on this occasion, as at other times. For several minutes I was the 
only target for the whole rebel line. This was my last dangerous experience 
while in the service. 

The loss of the regiment in this unfortunate affair was : three com- 
missioned officers — one wounded and two captured; one enlisted man 
killed, six wounded, and thirty-five captured. 

Sergt. Albert W Bachelor, of Company E, and Benjamin B. Thomp- 
son, of Company K, who were among those taken prisoners, escaped 
from Libby prison December 12, and after eight days and nights of 
perilous adventure, succeeded in reaching the Union lines. 

Their return to the regiment was an occasion of general congratulation 
by their comrades, who feared they would never see them again until the 
end of the war, if ever 

The Confederates continued to hold the new line that they had so 
easily established against us at our own expense for several days, and t 
until the division of colored troops relieved the Provisional Brigade on 
the Bermuda front, and retook the old line we had lost. 

Whoever else may question the courage and efficiency of the negro 
soldiers, it will never be the rebel whites who met them there or elsewhere 
on the field of battle : but last of all should it ever come from the " Penn- 
sylvania Dutch." 

Although "the Dutch have taken Holland" many times, if editors 
pens are never dipped in lying ink ; yet, if any of their blood still runs in 
the veins of some of their American descendants, they could never have 
been a very warlike people. 

From the 17th to the 22cl it rained more or less every day and night, 
and then cleared off cold and windy, reminding the New England men 
of the long and cold fall rains of their native clime, followed by days — 

"Cruel as Winter, and cold as the snow." 

But Thanksgiving — a day never to be forgotten by the sons and 
daughters of New England, wherever their future station or home may 
be — was close at hand, and though mothers and sisters could not be 
present to prepare for the oven and transfer to the table, as of yore, yet 
the love and labor of their hearts and hands were manifest as wagon- 
load after wagon-load of well filled boxes were hauled into camp from 
City Point, all containing " something good and nice for the boys." 
Most of these were received and distributed through the different state 
agencies at Washington, but many of them were direct from home to a 
father, brother, or son, at the front. 

The Twelfth received for its share of the distribution : one hundred 
pounds of turkeys and chickens, one barrel of crackers, one bushel of 
cranberries, five pounds of dried apples, and several other supplies, 
among which were the medicinal as well as the edible. This not only 

yew Hampshire Volunteers. 253 

gave the regiment enough to eat for one day, but many lunch and dessert 
bites beside : so many, in fact, that when pieced out by the smaller but 
choicer boxes received by individual members from home, many were 
made daintv of their old rations, and some became sick. It is not sur- 
prising, however, that such an uncommonly good opportunity should be 
grabbed at too eagerly by some to be judiciously improved. 

This was the last Yankee Thanksgiving in " Dixie"; and, believing it 
to be such, the few who were alive and present to enjoy, made the most 
of it that their situation and surroundings allowed. 

On the 27th General Ferrero's division of colored troops arrived, and 
the Twelfth changed their quarters for those of one of the new regiments 
that had been ordered away It remained on the old line, however, until 
December 3, when it again moved to the north side of the James, where 
it was assigned the next day to the Second Brigade, Third Division, 
Fourth Army Corps — the Eighteenth and Tenth having been discon- 
tinued, and the Army of the James re-organized into the Twenty-fourth 
and Twenty-fifth Corps, the former consisting of white troops and the 
latter of colored troops, and commanded by Generals Orel and Weitzel 

The Twentv-fourth Corps was now commanded by Major-General 
Ord, its Third Division by Gibbon, and Colonel Potter, upon being 
relieved from service at Bermuda Hundred, was assigned to the command 
of the Second Brigade of General Gibbon's division ; so that the new 
organization still left the Twelfth under the brigade command of its old 
Colonel, who ought before then to have been wearing the " stars," as he 
probably would had General Whipple lived long enough, after his death 
wound at Chancellorsville, "to do justice to Colonel Potter and his brave 
men," as it was his dying wish that he might. 

After the colored troops took the places of the whites on the Bermuda 
front, all friendliness between the opposing pickets at once disappeared, 
and a constant interchange of shots between them was kept up on some 
parts of the line, where there was any chance of inflicting injury upon 
each other, for nearly every hour in the day or night. The rebel soldiers 
were ordered to fire upon the colored pickets at every opportunity 

It was verily the active demonstration of the "irrepressible conflict" 
that Seward had spoken of and others had predicted ; and those who had 
so long been pressed down, were rising slowly but surely toward a com- 
mon level before the law, for which they were already contesting, on 
equal footing with their oppressors, on the field of battle. 

Soon after returning to the north side of the James the regiment com- 
menced again, and for the third time, to build winter quarters, but they 
were not finished until the 15th, upon which day Lieutenant-Colonel 
Barker was presented with an elegantly finished sword, with sash and 
belt to match, and a pair of spurs, the whole costing two hundred and 
forty-six dollars, itemized as follows: Sword, $150; belt, $60; sash, 

254 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

$30 ; and spurs, $6. These tokens of appreciation were given him by 
officers and men of his regiment, that he had so long and ably com- 
manded, and most faithfully had he earned them. 

The new encampment was upon iw Chapin's Farm," so called, because 
owned by a rich planter by that name, and occupied bv him or his family 
until vacated upon the arrival of our troops upon that side of the river just 
before the battle, known by that name, that resulted in the capture of Fort 
Harrison. A further mention may be made of this place in another con- 

The Twelfth was now encamped within seven miles of Richmond, and 
nearer the doomed city than ever before, except for a few clays while 
working upon and occupying the intrenchments north of the fort as pre- 
viously described. 

During the winter of 1864-5 there was but little fighting north of the 
James, or on the Bermuda line, but the Union works were often so thinly 
manned by reason of sending troops from there to the extreme left, where 
Grant was almost constantly pounding away upon Lee's right flank, and 
his lines of communication and supply, that great vigilance, and some- 
times double duty, were required of the small force allowed to remain. 
The men were frequently obliged to turn out an hour or more before light 
and stand to arms until roll-call. 

The irksome drill was still kept up, and much attention was given to 
the bayonet exercise, so that the men might be able to do effective work 
at close quarters should the enemy attack ; and this, together with picket, 
police, and other camp duties, and interspersed with man}- inspections, 
left little or no time for amusement. But though their duties were many 
and sometimes burdensome, they were neither severe nor exhausting as 
in the earlier days of Grant's campaign, and the men bore it all with sub- 
missive patience, for they fully believed that the time was short that their 
services would be further needed. 

They were strengthened in this belief as they heard of the successes of 
Sherman in the South, Thomas in the West, and Terry at Fort Fisher 
and Wilmington. But more than all these to encourage them were the 
increasing desertions from the rebel ranks, already alluded to in this 
chapter ; for if General Lee could no longer hold his own army together, 
how could he much longer continue to resist ours, the strong cordon of 
which was strengthening and tightening every day? Nor was it strange 
to those who heard the discouraging stories of these deserters, that their 
numbers were daily increasing. It was not all because they had got sick 
of fighting for what was already to them the "lost cause," but because, 
also, that the rebel commissary supply, during the months of December 
and January, was so scant and insufficient, that it had actually become a 
debatable question in the rebel ranks whether they should stay and 
starve, or leave and live. 

Confirmatory of this is the following from General Humphreys's "Vir- 
ginia Campaign of 1864-5 " : 

JVcw Hampshire Volunteers. 255 

The winter of '64-5 was one ot" unusual severity, making the picket duty in 
front of the intrenchments very severe. It was especially so to the Confederate 
troops, with their threadbare, insufficient clothing, and meagre food — chiefly 
corn bread made of the coarsest meal. Meat they had but little of, and their 
subsistence department was actually importing it from abroad. Of coffee, tea, or 
sugar, they had none except in the hospitals. 

It is stated, that in a secret session of the Confederate Congress the condition 
of the Confederacy, as to subsistence was declared to be : 

That there was not enough in the Southern Confederacy for the armies it had 
in the field. 

That there was not in Virginia either meat or bread enough for the armies 
within her limits. 

That the supply of bread for those armies to be obtained from other places, 
depended absolutely upon keeping open the railroad connections of the South. 

That the meat must be obtained from abroad through a seaport by blockade 

That the transportation was not now adequate, from whatever cause, to meet 
the necessary demands of the service. 

That the supply of fresh meat to General Lee's army was precarious, and, if 
the army fell back from Richmond and Petersburg, that there was every prob- 
ability that it would cease altogether 

The condition of the deserters who came into our lines during the winter, 
appeared to prove that there was no exaggeration in these statements. 

Some time in February the Confederate commissariat was got into better con- 
dition, and Lee's army was better rationed from that time until the fall of Rich- 
mond and Petersburg, and reserve depots were maintained at Richmond, 
Lynchburg, Danville, and Greensborough, containing three and a half million 
rations of bread. 

But the rolling stock of the railroads was so worn that it could no longer bring 
the necessary number of rations to Lee's army in addition to the other require- 
ments made upon it, and wagon trains were resorted to wherever practicable. 

Christmas day the finishing blast — so far as it ever was finished — was 
made in Dutch Gap, its bulkhead being blown out upon that day, if Gen- 
eral Butler's own account is correct, instead of New Year's day as 
related in some regimental histories, and confirmed by the diary entry of 
Sergeant Noyes, of the Twelfth. This mistake arose, probably, from 
the fact that both of the days came on Sunday. 

This last convulsive effort to make the " big ditch" a success was all 
in vain ; for not another thing was ever done upon it during the war, no 
attempt being made even to dredge out the dirt that fell back and 
dammed back the water of the river that might otherwise, to some small 
extent, have flowed in. It was a foolish undertaking from the start, and 
its total failure adversely affected the reputation of its projector. 

The old year expired and was shrouded in snow, and the Borean blasts 
that heralded the new, convinced the shivering hosts in army blue, that 
old General Winter's department reached much farther southward than 
"Mason and Dixon's line." 

256 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

January 7 General Butler was relieved from his command in the army 
by order of President Lincoln, and directed to " repair to Lowell, Mass.. 
and report by letter to the adjutant-general of the army-" 

This was done at the request of General Grant, sent to Secretary Stan- 
ton three days before, in which he says : " I do this with reluctance, but 
the good of the service requires it. In my absence General Butler neces- 
sarily commands, and there is a lack of confidence felt in his military 
ability, making him an unsafe commander for a large army His admin- 
istration of the affairs of his department is also objectionable." 

The same request, without the reasons, was telegraphed to the president 
himself on the 6th. 

Thus was General Grant obliged to ask the abrupt rejection of his own 
special selection : and General Butler, whatever his faults and failings, 
was subjected thereby to greater humiliation, than could in proper regard 
for his past services be well justified. 

Though strongly affiliated with, and one of the leaders of, a great 
national party, the greater portion of which took an active part in, or 
sympathized with, the secession movement that precipitated the war, he 
was among the very first of the prominent men of the North to step forth 
in defense of his country, and had, to the best of his ability , long and 
earnestly labored and fought in her defense. 

That he had not always been successful in his efforts, and had signally 
failed when much was required and most expected of him, as in his last 
campaign, no one, conversant with his military career, will deny : but 
that he was not alone to blame for these failures, as has been shown in a 
previous chapter, and that he succeeded at other times and places, as at 
Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York, where few, if any, could have 
done so well, and man}- would have totally failed, must in truth and jus- 
tice be admitted. 

Sometimes proudly alone, and always strangely unique, Butler long 
stood conspicuously and defiantly forth in the public arena, a target for 
his foes and a shield for his friends. 

But he has at last fallen from the ranks of time, and as a soldier pa- 
triot, if for nothing else, let him be remembered with all kindness and 

Mis farewell address issued on the 8th, is here ffiven : 


Soldiers of the Army of the fames: 

Your commander, relieved by order of the president, takes leave of you. 
Your conduct in the field extorted praises from the unwilling. You have endured 
the privations of the camp and the march without a murmur. You have never 
failed to attack when ordered. You have stormed and carried works deemed 
impregnable bv the enemy. You have shown the positions to be so by holding 
them against his fiercest assaults in the attempt to retake them. 

Those skilled in war have marvelled at the obstacles overcome by vour valor 
Your deeds have rendered your names illustrious. 

yew Hampshire Volunteers. 257 

In after times your general's, proudest memory will be to say with you: "I, 
too, was of the Armv of the James." To share your companionship is pleasure. 
To participate in such acts is honor. 

To have commanded such an army is glory No one could yield it without 
regret. Knowing your willing obedience to orders, witnessing the ready devo- 
tion of your blood in your country's cause, I have been chary of the precious 
charge confided to me. I have refused to order the useless sacrifice of the lives 
of such soldiers, and I am relieved from your command. 

The wasted blood of my men does not stain my garments. For my action I 
am responsible to God and my country 

To the Colored Troofs of the Army of the James: 

In this army you have been treated not as laborers but as soldiers. You have 
shown yourselves worthy of the uniform you wear. 

The best officers of the Union seek to command you. Your bravery has won 
the admiration even of those who would be your masters. Your patriotism and 
fidelity have illustrated the best qualities of manhood. With the bayonet you 
have unlocked the iron-barred gates of prejudice, opening new fields of freedom, 
liberty, and equality of right to yourselves and your race forever. 

Comrades of the Army of the James, I bid you all farewell. 

Benj. F, 

Major- General '. 

January 17 Colonel Potter was relieved from the command of the 
Second Brigade to accept the position of chief-of-staff to General Gibbon, 
who had been promoted to the command of the Twenty-fourth Corps in 
place of Genera] Orel, who assumed command of the Army of the James, 
and the Department of Virginia and North Carolina as recently held by 
General Butler. Lieutenant-Colonel Birney, of the Ninth Vermont, 
assumed command of the brigade after Potter left. 

On the same day there was a review of the corps by its new com- 
mander : and as General Gibbon was riding along the line an orderly 
handed him a dispatch, which he no sooner glanced over than he read 
aloud to the troops. It was that Fort Fisher had fallen, and that General 
Terry and his brave men were in possession, holding one thousand of its 
late delenders as prisoners of war. 

"Then," in the language of a Twelfth staff officer who was present, 
"went up three hearty cheers, followed by the sneering cry: 'How is 
Lowell stock now? How are you, Butler?'" 

It will be remembered by the old veterans, and the younger readers 
can learn it from history, that an expedition had been sent down the coast 
under General Butler in December to capture Fort Fisher ; but after ex- 
ploding a boat-load of powder, in the vain and very foolish attempt to 
demolish the Fort by the concussion, and making some slight demonstra- 
tion of attack, he returned with the report that it was impracticable to 
assault as the fort was too strong to be taken even by the combined 
efforts of the land and naval forces. 


258 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

To this, however, Admiral Porter, who commanded the fleet, did not 
agree, nor General Grant either ; for no sooner did Butler's troops return, 
than they were sent back under General Terry with the successful result 
above referred to. 

On the same day a system of competitive inspections was instituted bv 
General Gibbon, by means of which the successful soldiers in the contest 
were given furloughs, and the regiments found most deserving of com- 
mendation were excused from all duty for one week. 

Regimental and company inspections were required on Sunday and 
Wednesday of each week, and the company commanders at each inspec- 
tion had to select the soldier "best in order" in his companv and send 
him to the regimental commander, who was to select from those sent him 
from the different companies the best, in his judgment, and send him up 
to the brigade commander, and he in turn to select from those sent to him 
the man who should represent his brigade at division headquarters, where 
another and the final test inspection of the men from the several brigades, 
decided who, among all the contestants, should be the proud and happv 
recipient of a thirty days' furlough home. 

On every alternate Sunday, commencing on the 22d, brigade com- 
manders were required to inspect each regiment in their commands, 
reporting to division headquarters the regiments found " best in order"' 
and those considered " worst in order" ; and those reported best were to 
be excused from all picket and outside details for one week, and from 
those reported ivorst no furloughs were to be granted until they had 
changed their inspection rating. 

And on the Wednesday succeeding these brigade inspections, the best 
regiments, thus selected, were inspected again by the division com- 
mander, whose duty it was to select from them the final best, and order 
it excused from another week's duty 

As was expected and intended, this order created a sharp rivalship 
between the men and regiments, as to whom or which should be reported 
" best in order," which phrase, in military construction, meant in the best 
order and condition in everything pertaining to the soldier — his person, 
deportment, clothes, knapsack, gun, and equipments — in which he, by 
his own care, diligence, and attention, could make any improvement. 

But it is doubtlessly true that selections were sometimes made among 
the individual competitors more because of the natural than the acquired 
appearance of the soldier; and that a bright face and shapelv form were 
more potent to influence the officers who had to decide, than bright 
brasses and the cleanest gun, to say nothing about the unavoidable bias of 
favoritism in the minds of the company commanders. 

The result of the regimental inspections will be understood from the 
following : 

SVczi' Hampshire Volunteers. 259 

Hd. Qrs. 2d Brig. 30 Div 
24TH Army Corps, Jan. 22, iS6^. 
Commanding Officer 12th X H. Vols. : 

Sir, — I am directed by the brigade commander to inform yon that your regiment 
is pronounced to be the best in order, according to the reports of the inspectors 
of the brigade this day. You will, therefore, hold your regiment in readiness to 
he inspected bv the division commander on Wednesday next. 

Very respectfully, etc. 

Abel E. Leavenworth, 

A. A. Atljt. Genl. 

Upon receiving the above. Colonel Barker issued to the regiment a 
congratulatory order in which he says : 

To the honored name you have won in many hard fought battles with the foes 
of vour country, whom we all believe to be our inferiors in many of the ele- 
ments of true and enlightened manhood, you have now added new laurels by 
your victory in soldierly appearance over the five other regiments in your brig- 
ade, composed of men whom you respect and look upon as your equals. 

By the success already attained vou arc elected candidates to compete with the 
two regiments selected from the other brigades of the division on Wednesday 
next. Let no efforts be spared to again win. 

Less than two davs now remained to prepare for another battle of 
looks instead of acts, but the final test was necessarily delayed by an 
unexpected and exciting event. 

About midnight of the 23d heavy firing was heard in the direction of 
Fort Bradv, and soon the pickets reported the rebel gunboats coming 
down the river, and the sound of the long roll and bugle blast broke the 
stillness of the night and roused the men from their quiet slumbers. 

Finding that their movement was discovered the rebels opened upon 
our lines from Howlet's and other batteries, and though it was not "whis- 
pered with white lips," yet the sudden and unexpected attack in the night 
reminded some of the remainder of that familiar line of their school-boy 
days, " The foe ! They come, they come !" 

The morning light revealed three ironclad rams, five armed wooden 
steamers, and three torpedo boats of the enemy engaged with our moni- 
tors and land batteries near our chain of obstructions above Dutch Gap, 
through which two of the rams had succeeded in passing while the other 
had grounded in the attempt. 

The Twelfth, with other regiments, was at once ordered into the 
trenches, ready to resist an attack of the enemy's forces that were re- 
ported to be concentrating on our right, where it remained until nearly 
dark, when the rebel fleet, getting the worst of it in the artillery duel of 
the day, withdrew up the river, leaving the rebel ram " Drewry," as 
a trophy of the contest, in our hands. 

260 ///story of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

It was a bold, determined attempt to break through all obstructions, 
disable our gun-boats, and destoy our whole depot of supplies at Citv 
Point: and, with the assistance of their land forces which were intending 
to move forward as soon as the river was opened by their fleet, the result 
might have been more disastrous. But the fates were now against them, 
and this last spasmodic effort to break the cordon of death that encircled 
them amounted to little more than a night's scare and a day's fun for our 
forces along the James, the most cowardly and ridiculous part of which 
will be found written out in another chapter 

Tuesday night was cold, and the men were thankful that the discom- 
fiture of the rebel rams, leaving more wool than horns, allowed them rest 
in quarters instead of longer exposure to cutting winds and bursting 
shells in the trenches. 

The next day, which was to have decided the inspection contest, there 
was another report that the enemy were massing on our right, and com- 
mands were ordered to be in readiness to march at a moment's warning : 
but after another night of watching and waiting the rumor proved 
unfounded, and the order for ready action was then unheeded. 

Being no longer menaced by the foe, preparation for the final inspec- 
tion test, which had been postponed one week, to decide which was the 
best regiment in the division, again demanded the time and attention of 
the men not otherwise occupied by the daily routine of camp duties. 

Stimulated and encouraged by having won against five competitors in 
the brigade trial, both officers and men were now determined not to be 
vanquished by only two opponents, although each like the Twelfth had 
been selected as the best in its brigade. 

Perfection, so far as means and circumstances permitted, was now the 
effort and the aim of every man. What, in the former trial, was thought 
to be the best was labored upon until it looked better, and where improve- 
ment seemed possible it was either made or attempted. In the meantime 
another Sunday brigade inspection came round and the Twelfth again 
took its place at the head of the column as the best regiment on the field. 
Reassured by this second victory every member of the battalion felt more 
than ever confident of bearing off the victor's wreath in the final contest : 
but still their care and diligence did not abate, for they expected and 
desired not to win without deserving. The day, Wednesday, February 
8, at last arrived and the three regiments, Twelfth New Hampshire, 
Ninety-eighth New York, and Fortieth Massachusetts, were marched out 
and paraded in line for the division commander to inspect. But no 
sooner does the Fortieth Massachusetts appear than a murmur of disap- 
probation runs along the ranks of the other two regiments, for it is at 
once seen that an unfair advantage is being taken. That regiment had 
just drawn a full supply of new frock coats, and took the liberty to wear 
them on this occasion, although they knew that the other regiments would 
wear, as at previous inspections, the common police blouse of daily use. 

JCczv Hampshire Volunteers. 261 

This unfair attempt to win the first favor by a new and better dress, in- 
stead of wearing the best looking old one of like kind as the others, 
should of itself, with any fair and competent inspector, have decided the 
contest against them. But, as feared, the verdict was the other way, and 
the Fortieth Massachusetts was selected as " little the best in order" with 
the Twelfth New Hampshire and the Ninety-eighth New York reported 
as ''deserving special commendation." The decision was generally dis- 
approved of by officers and men of the division, and was derisively 
alluded to, as " a victory of dress coats over blouses." 

This was the end of competitive inspections, which, as might have 
been expected, resulted in more harm than good to the service, for no 
matter how fairly or ably managed, exact justice was impossible, and the 
unsuccessful competitors being both dissatisfied and discouraged the last 
end was almost certain to be worse than the first. No wise commander 
would seriouslv think of so foolish an attempt to improve the personnel of 
his army that was to remain for any time in active service. 

Several of the Twelfth bovs got furloughs for being found, by these 
inspections, best in the whole division, and the whole regiment was 
excused from duty two or three times for receiving the highest mark at 
the brigade inspections. 

February 9, the regiment had the very unpleasant duty to perform of 
shooting one of its own members for desertion. Joseph Sharp, one of 
the substitutes of Company A, who joined the regiment at Point Lookout, 
and deserted at White House Landing on the night that the regiment 
encamped there on its way to Cold Harbor, upon this day ended his 
earthly career 

Soon after his desertion and safe escape to the North, he again enlisted 
for a big bounty, and soon found himself enrolled as a recruit in the Fifth 
Maryland, which, most unfortunately for him, was at that time in the 
same brigade as the Twelfth. He tried hard to escape recognition by his 
old comrades, but in a few days his near presence was discovered by one 
or two of them, which soon came to the knowledge of Colonel Barker. 

Taking with him, Corp. Julius A. Davis, of Company A, from whom 
he had learned of the deserter's whereabouts, and who knew in just what 
company and tent of the Maryland regiment he could be found, if in his 
quarters, the Colonel quickly visited the commander of the Fifth Mary- 
land (who had just before refused to give up the culprit upon a written 
request) and demanded his man. 

Seeing that to longer refuse would involve himself in trouble, the 
Maryland colonel apologized for his officious independence and sent an 
officer of his regiment along with Colonel Barker and Corporal Davis to 
hunt out the soldier who, though enrolled under and answering to a dif- 
ferent name, was believed to be no other than Joseph Sharp, as he called 
himself while present for duty in the Twelfth. 

Davis, acting as guide, soon stopped in front of a tent which he pointed 

262 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

out to his followers as the quarters of the man they were hunting for, but 
he was not there. Colonel Barker's first thought was that the fellow had 
got a windward hint of his discovery, and taken another jump, more 
this time, however, for a longer lease of life than for another bounty 
But upon further search, he was found in another tent, and recognized 
bv the shepard colonel himself as one of his lost black sheep. For 
a while he persisted in avowing his innocence, declaring that he knew 
nothing about such a man as Joseph Sharp and that he never went by 
such a name. But when he found he was to be taken back to his old 
regiment, where he would be identified by even- member df his company 
that was still in the ranks, he broke down completely and confessed the 
whole, exclaiming : " And now. Colonel, I suppose I shall soon be a 
dead man." 

" Oh no ! I guess not," replied the colonel, thinking then, in the kind- 
ness of his heart, that, if he would only show true repentance for the 
past, by a strict compliance with future duty, he would do all that he 
could to save him from so sad a fate. And the verdict of the court- 
martial of " guilty," would doubtless have been followed by a strong 
recommendation for mercy and final mitigation of the death sentence, 
had he not thrown away all chance or hope, bv foolishly making a full 
confession, as the world will say — Heaven's record may read differently 
— owning that he had deserted several times before, and that when 
arrested he was actually making preparations to desert again, and get 
one more bounty before the end of the war. 

He had deserted once too many then, and he saw, when too late, that 
although he had gained thousands of dollars, he must lose his own life 
as a penalty for the unlawful and dishonorable means he had employed. 

By virtue of a reward offered by the War Department to any soldier 
who would give information that would lead to the apprehension and 
conviction of a deserter, Corporal Davis was entitled to a thirty days' 
furlough and thirty dollars in money He received his furlough, but tor 
some reason was never paid the money 

Some of the regiment, and especially the recruits, blamed Davis for 
informing against his comrade, with whom he had been intimate, even 
after Sharp was found by him in the Maryland regiment, and accused 
him of betraying a friendly confidant solely for selfish gain. But Davis, 
who is still living, gives a different version of the affair, and says he only 
answered to the inquiry made of him by Colonel Barker, who had learned 
from another that he (Davis) could tell him most about the missing man. 

The particulars of the execution need not be given here, as they were 
about the same as written out in full in a previous chapter about the death 
of two other deserters from the Second New Hampshire. 

It was the first and last visitation of the extreme penalty of the law 
upon any member of the Twelfth, by order of a court-martial, while in 
the service ; and he who suffered it gave evidence of true repentance. 

JTezv Hampshire Volunteers. 263 

not only for which he was convicted, but for all that he had done that 
was wrong during his whole life. He forgave all, as he hoped to be for- 
given, and expressed the wish that his comrades and all others cognizant 
of his sad end might take warning therefrom, and die not, like him, an 
ignominious death. 

The almost continuous grumble, rumble, and roar of our own and the 
enemy's artillery around and to the left of Petersburg, lessened somewhat 
as the autumn days shortened, and changed, as the leaves fell, from the 
constant to the recurrent. 

Yet at frequent intervals during the whole winter the western breezes 
brought to our ears sounds of contending cannon — sometimes savagely 
loud and spasmodic, from the Petersburg front, and again, but less often, 
in lower pitch but greater volume, swelling into the wide-reverberating 
and long-resounding thunders of distant battle, where Trip-hammer Grant 
was still at work, away round on the enemy's right, pounding and pul- 
verizing the few remaining foundation stones of the Southern Confederacy. 

There was but little for our artillerists to do north of the James, except 
to practice, when they got a chance, on the rebel rams and gunboats, and 
still less need of burning any coarse powder along the Bermuda front. 

There were but few batterv balls thrown by the right wing of the army 
after the capture of Fort Harrison, but many blank cartridges were ex- 
ploded at different times bv our artillery when good news came in from the 
South and West, so that the enemy might know that our armies elsewhere 
were marching on from victory to victory And these salutes, usually 
of an hundred guns each, were by no means a foolish waste of powder, 
for they did much to encourage our own troops, while, at the same time, 
they had a correspondingly disheartening effect upon the Confederate 
forces opposed to them. 

But the roar of our saluting guns, for every important victory gained 
by other Federal armies in the field, gladdened some hearts that beat 
beneath the gray as well as the blue, for there were many still in arms 
against the Government, who, while they were too honorable to desert a 
sinking cause that they had once so earnestly espoused, yet were heartily 
sick of longer periling their lives in a useless attempt to establish it. 
And this was especially so with the more intelligent of the rebel army, 
for they more than half believed that their defeat would prove more bene- 
ficial to them and their posterity than their success. 

Slowly but surely the besieged Confederacy was crumbling to pieces. 

Lee's army was about all there was left of it ; for all its strongholds, 
except Richmond and Petersburg, had fallen, and Johnson's army was 
powerless to check the march of Sherman's victorious legions on their 
course northward to join the Army of the Potomac. 

The South Side and Lynchburg railroads had been for some time the 
main lines of supply left to General Lee ; and to hold these from the 
reaching grasp of Grant, he had been obliged to extend his lines south- 

264, Hist or v of the Tie ci '//// Regiment 

westward until they extended from the Claiborne road, where it crosses 
Hatches s Run on his right, to White Oak Swamp, his extreme left — a 
distance of thirty-seven miles by the most direct route, and not reckoning 
anything for irregularities of the line of intrenchments, except the deflec- 
tions, of four miles each, along the courses of the James and Appomattox 

Of the direct line, eight miles were north of the James, five between 
the rivers, and sixteen south of the Appomattox. 

The following anecdote, whether true or false, quite well illustrates the 
situation and condition of the Southern cause at the beginning of the year 

Sometimes there would occur an interchange of jokes between the 
picket lines that would bring out sharp points of wit upon one side or the 
other, the Yankee, however, usually coming out ahead. 

In one of these amusing contests that took place, about this time, 
between a "Fed-well" and a "corn-fed," as they were sometimes dis- 
tinguished, the former, after cunningly setting his trap by referring to the 
effective service that the rebels made against us by their frequent use of 
the Whitworth gun, suddenly and earnestly broke out as follows : 

"But do you know, 'Johnny,' that we are not allowed to use long 
range guns on our side any longer? " 

" No, nor you neither ; what you givin' us now, Yank ? " 

" Something solid and serious, and no joking : and I can tell you why. 
if you want to know." 

"Well, let's have it then." 

" Because your Confederacy is getting so thin that we are afraid of 
shooting ' plumb ' through it and killing our own men." 

Thus it will be seen that before the earth in her orbit had reached the 
equinoctial point dividing the winter from the spring in the last year of 
the war, the Slave Confederacy had become but an empty shell of such 
transparent thinness that those outside could see, almost as well as those 
within, how nothing less than such a marvelous change of events as the 
most sanguine and devoted rebel could find neither ground to hope, nor 
faith to pray for, could save it from being crushed by the surrounding 
pressure of military power 

The Union soldiers saw the southern cross fast fading away as they 
kept their night watch around their camps, while to them the northern 
star beamed forth with constantly increasing brilliancy 

So sure were some of the men in the regiment, that a few more months, 
at the longest, would end the war, that, though seriously disabled, they 
refused to accept of a discharge when offered to them, because they 
wanted to see the end, and go home with the rest of the boys after the 
war was over. 

With his lines constantly extending, and his army daily decreasing, 
Lee plainly saw that the only chance left for him was to escape, if possi- 

JTezu Hampshire Volunteers. 265 

ble, bv breaking through the Union line, and uniting with Johnston's 
army further south. 

He could but fail in the attempt, and to remain where he was, only 
invited the same fate, without even the excuse of an effort to avoid it. 

He therefore resolved to act upon the idea that " while there is life there 
is h^pe," however feeble the strength, and decided upon Fort Steadman 
as the point of attack. 

General Gordon was selected to lead and direct the assaulting column, 
which, advancing under cover of darkness, took the fort before its defend- 
ers had time to recover from their surprise. 

But the Union forces rushing to the rescue from the right and left, soon 
drove the rebels out and back, and Lee's last desperate effort before his 
final retreat proved, as he had feared, a failure. 

Although the apparent and, as then supposed, real object of this attack 
was to paralyze Grant's right hand until the greatest part or the whole of 
the rebel forces could elude his grasp, it now appears from some Confed- 
erate papers and reports, that its main object was to compel Grant to so 
far withdraw his extreme left, as to allow Lee's army to quickly and 
quietly abandon their line of works in front of Petersburg and Rich- 
mond, and marching around our left flank, unite with Johnston and crush 
Sherman before Grant with his forces could prevent it. 

This seems to have been a plan previously agreed upon by Jefferson 
Davis and General Lee as a last resort ; and Grant, apprehensive that 
something of the kind might be attempted by the Confederate leaders, 
kept signal and picket officers constantly upon the alert that no sign or 
indication of any change or movement in the enemy's lines should escape 
their notice. 

But the attack upon Fort Steadman was all the evidence that the Fed- 
eral leader wanted to convince him that the hour of final action was at 
hand, and he immediately ordered General Ord, in command of the 
Army of the James, to take with him the First and Second Divisions of 
the Twenty-fourth Corps, one division (colored) of the Twenty-fifth 
Corps, with quite a large force of cavalry, and march at once with all 
possible secrecy and celerity, to join the Second Corps at the extreme left 
of the Union line, where they would be ready to fight or chase Lee, as 
occasion might require, in the anticipated effort of the rebel commander 
to save his army from capture. 

This march of thirty-six miles was so quickly and quietly made, that 
the enemy knew nothing of it until several days after, when he found his 
right flank imperiled by the presence of troops that were supposed to be 
nearly forty miles away. 

It was one of the most timely and successful movements ever made by 
the Army of the James, or any part of it. 

But this movement of troops, though largely contributory to greater 
results than even hoped for, in so short a time, was nevertheless a very 

266 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

risky one, for it was made in the face and eves of the whole of Loner- 
street's corps that had been sent north of the James only a few days 
before to meet an attack, or take an advantage of the withdrawal of our 
troops, as indications from the greatest vigilance and closest inspection 
might dictate. 

Had Longstreet known what General Weitzel, left in command of Ber- 
muda and Chapin's Farm, did — that little more than a picket line re- 
mained to hold the works protecting Grant's right wing — it would have 
been the Union instead of the Confederate right that would have suffered 
first, if not most. 

It was because of this danger that every precaution was taken, both by 
the troops leaving and those remaining, to deceive the enemy until his 
right flank was imperiled by Grant's strongly reinforced left. 

From this until the memorable morning of the eventful 3d of April, 
1865, every officer and soldier, of both armies, felt sure that something 
unusually important was about to occur ; and every member of the 
Twelfth as well as all the other soldiers of the Twenty-fourth Corps, left 
to hold the line nearest Richmond, was constantly on the qui virc, first 
fearing every moment an attack, and then expecting to attack themselves, 
but happily disappointed in both, as the enemy, ignorant of our weak- 
ness, did not molest us, and the last "onward to Richmond'' was over 
deserted works, instead of the wounded and the dead. 

Daily and almost hourly came the order : •' Hold your men in readiness 
to move at any moment," and picket orders and duties were so rigidly exact- 
ing and constantly recurring on account of the importance of the situation 
and the scarcity of troops, that the men hardly got time to eat or sleep. 
Nothing like it had ever been required of them before, but they com- 
plained but little, except in a joking way, for every one plainly under- 
stood the necessity of his overwork and sleepless watchfulness, and had 
full faith in the final result. 


Capture and Occupation of Richmond. 

il I propose to tig/it it out on this line if it takes all summer," were the 
words with which General Grant closed his first dispatch to the War 
Department after six days of terrible but undecisive conflict with the 
enemy at the Wilderness and Spottsylvania. And although he did not 
" fight it out" upon that line at all, and it only lacked a month and one 
day of being a whole year from the time he first moved his army south- 
ward from the Rapidan before any part of it entered Richmond, except 
as prisoners of war, vet, with all his flanking and swinging, changing 
both his line and base of operations, his face was always toward his 
objective point, and his army, though often repulsed and sometimes, as 
at Cold Harbor and Petersburg, almost disheartened, listened in vain for 
an order to retreat. Such a word was nowhere to be found in his whole 
military vocabulary Napoleon's ^forzeard" as the only answer to his 
chief engineer, who had reported it impossible to advance further over 
the seemingly impassible barriers of the snow-clad Alps, was not 
prompted by a stronger will or more determined purpose than constantly 
and unwaveringly possessed the mind of General Grant from the 4th of 
May, 1864, when his army made its first advance toward the Confederate 
capital, to the 3d of April, 1865, when a portion of the same army chased 
the last armed rebel out of it. 

As related in the preceding chapter, nothing now remained of the 
dying Confederacy but the closing scenes and the funeral ceremonies. 

On the evening of April 2d, our musicians were kept busy until 9 
o'clock or past, for the double purpose of holding Longstreet in our front 
as long as possible, and at the same time preventing him from making an 
attack, by inducing him to believe that there were three or four times as 
many troops in his front as there really were. But the sound of artillery 
away to the south-westward, at frequent intervals the day before, where 
Sheridan and Warren had already commenced the final struggle, and 
the nearer and louder sound of Ord's, Wright's, and Parks's guns in 
their early morning attack of the 2d upon the enemy's lines to the left 
and in front of Petersburg, had sent Longstreet in that direction many 
hours before the musical entertainment, intended for his delusion, had 

General Weitzel was watching for signs all night, and one of his staff", 
climbing to the top of a signal tower near his headquarters, discovered a 

268 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

bright light, like the burning of a building of some kind, in what he 
thought to be the city of Richmond. 

Just before this, and causing the observation, a deep, heavy sound was 
heard from the same direction, soon followed by two or three others 
resembling the first. 

These reports were heard by many of the soldiers, beside those on 
picket, who, like their general, were too intensely interested in what was 
doincr or about to be done, to close their eves in slumber. Amonc such 
were several officers and men of the Twelfth, who, while watching and 


listening, earnestly discussed the signs and sounds that had come to their 
eves as well as ears — for thev too had seen the li<>~ht — and a£reeinL r \) y<i [ 
the sounds were not the reports of either cannon or mortars, quickly and 
rightly concluded that the rebels were blowing up their gun-boats and 
arsenal preparatory to evacuation. 

Soon everyone in camp was up, excitedly moving and eagerly ques- 
tioning, as if the long roll had been beaten. 

Grant, anticipating Lee's movements, had ordered an assault upon the 
rebel works north of the James to be made by daylight the next morning, 
and all, from General Weitzel to private, were intensely interested to 
know whether they were again to face the shot and shell of an entrenched 
foe, or to have the double pleasure of avoiding danger and death, and 
marching unopposed over deserted lines of defense into the city that had 
so long defied their efforts to capture. 

If the reader will here pause and reflect for a single moment, he can 
not but imagine strongly the feelings and hopes of the soldiers on that part 
of the Union line at this time. 

Between what they still feared and what they were beginning to hope 
for, was the life-wide difference, in prospect, of the peace and pleasure 
of home, amid their kindred and native hills, and a sad and silent home, 
unnumbered and unknown, in a southern grave. 

By 3 o'clock, from the reports of deserters and the story of an intelli- 
gent negro who came riding into our lines in a buggy, it became quite 
certain that Richmond was being evacuated, and as soon as fairly light 
our picket line was ordered forward. 

The enemy's outer line of works was quickly reached and surmounted, 
but no rebels, armed or unarmed, were found, and silence, save when 
broken by the cheers of our men, alone remained to challenge their 

Captain Sargent and Lieutenant Bohonon were the officers in charge 
of the picket detail from the Twelfth, and the latter was the first man to 
mount the enemy's works, but scarcely sooner than Newell Davidson, of 
Company G, and others who were by his side or but just behind him. 

After the picket line had passed the fortifications, all semblance of 
marching order was lost in a race for Richmond ; but who got there first 
will never be known, though man}' have claimed the honor. 

jYc7l< Hampshire Vohtntccrs. 269 

But let us forget the many years that have passed since that eventful 
morning, making it seem at times almost like a dream, and write a while 
in the present tense as if we were again there. 

Richmond, the long sought and fought for, is at last within our grasp. 
The Sevastopol of the Confederacy has fallen, and but a single act 
remains to close the bloodv drama of the great rebellion of 1861-5. The 
war-worn veterans, now plainly seeing what for long and weary months 
and years they had been patientlv toiling and anxiously looking for — the 
near approaching end of their privations, hardships, and sufferings in the 
glorious consummation of the old flag triumphant over treason, and their 
country saved — grasp hands, or rush into each other's arms with smiles 
and tears of gladness, then throw high in air their caps, and give three 
long and loud resounding cheers, to be taken up and echoed and 
re-echoed along the lines from one command to another until the whole 
heavens are filled with shouts of gladness and cheers of victory 

Till life's last day will this dav last, vivid and distinct in our memories. 
It makes the boys think of home and of the gladness that the glorious 
news will carry there : and so thev catch at the first opportunity to write 
letters to those nearest and dearest to their hearts. 

Colonel Barker writes : 

I am so overjoyed with this day's success of our arms, that I can hardly keep 
still enough to write. The rebels being so effectually whipped yesterday in the 
vicinity of Petersburg that they knew they could not hold Richmond, fled pre- 
cipitately last night, leaving their artillery, camp and garrison equipage, and 
most evervthincr else to fall into our hands. Some of the light guns in the outer 
line of works were spiked, but all' of the heavy ordnance was left uninjured. I 
do not know the number of guns that we have taken, but it is enough to say that 
they did not get many away 

Captain Sargent and Lieutenant Bohonon were on the picket line, and conse- 
quently among the first to enter the city. Captain Sargent, as he was passing 
Jetf. Davis's house, halted his command and ordered three groans for the arch 
traitor who, by the way, left last night. Before leaving the rebels set fire to 
some of the public buildings and storehouses, and a great part of the city was 
destroyed before our soldiers could arrest the progress of the flames. Shells and 
torpedoes have been exploding all day, and the sound has been much like a rag- 
ing battle. Thousands of people are homeless, and are, I assure you, objects of 
pity and sympathy. 

The indignation of the citizens at the soldiers of their army for setting the city 
on fire is very great. They seem ready to own that they were secessionists, but 
are now loud in denouncing their leaders, and desire to return to their allegiance. 
I tell you the boys are gay. I never expect to see but two bigger days than 
this — one, when peace is declared, and the other, best of all, when we return 
to our homes. Colonel Ripley is now acting provost marshal of Richmond, but 
only by mistake. General Weitzel intended that General Donahoe should have 
that position, and sent for his brigade for provost duty; but the orderly or staff 
officer simply delivered the order to General Devens to send a .brigade, and in 
the excitement Devens sent up the first brigade. 

270 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

Sergeant Clarke, of Company G, while the regiment halts with its 
brigade a few moments on '• Tree Hill." pencils off the following : 

This is the greatest day I have seen yet in this war. Thank (iod ! Richmond 
is ours, and the stars and stripes are now Moating over the doomed city, Our 
brigade lias not yet entered the city, but it lies before us all in tlames, and there 
has been a continual roar of bursting shells and exploding magazines all the 


We are now on a hill just outside of the city, which is in full view ; we passed 
through the outskirts of the city as we came up. Wc started from camp at 7 
o'clock and got here at 9. We came straight up on the New Market road. I 
write this on a leaf of a company book of the Nineteenth Georgia, Company 15. 

The bovs have caught a peacock and cut his tail off, and are sending pieces of 
his feathers home in their letters, that nearly all are engaged in writing while wc 
arc waiting here. 

The rebels blew up three gun-boats on the James river just before we started, 
and there were two or three heavy explosions earlier in the morning, the first 
about 2 o'clock. 

It was indeed a day for history. 

To those so long residing securely within the seemingly impregnable 
fortifications of their capital city, that they had come to the conclusion 
that Lee was invincible against any' and every attempt of the Yankee 
invaders, it was a blow as severe and crushing as it was sudden and 

Many of the citizens, as soon as they found the city was to be evacu- 
ated, made haste to gather up all that was most valuable and follow their 
retreating army, still hoping that all was not lost, but that Lee might save 
his army, and by retreating southward and uniting with the forces under 
General Johnson, be able to hold out for months or years longer. 
Though the more intelligent of them had long foreseen the dreaded 
inevitable fast approaching, they tried to console themselves with the 
hope that by foreign intervention, or a divided North, they would either 
gain their independence, or effect some kind of a compromise that would 
leave them half victors, striving and praying with the officers of their 
boasted Confederacy for anything rather than an unconditional surrender 
to our arms, and resubmission to the laws of the land, which they called 
and pretended to look upon as "the most abject subjugation." It was 
certainly a very bitter pill for the elite of the Southern chivalry in their 
long nourished pride and arrogance to swallow : and especially after such 
a determined struggle and great sacrifice to avoid it. But vital diseases 
require severe remedies. The knife of the operator must reach beyond 
the roots of the cancer, or the blood and suffering are all in vain. 

But how little did they realize, and how hard then to have made them 
believe, that the night-doom of their cause would be the day-dawn of 
their own liberty and greatness, not only as an inseparable part of a 

^Yezc Hampshire Volunteers. 271 

reunited whole, but as especially applying to and affecting their own 
particular states and section. 

" So blind is passion the real truth to see. 
And prone to ruin what had better be." 

But there was another class who, though ignorant and degraded, could 
plainly see, and indeed had seen from the very commencement, as if by 
the eve of faith, what the end would be. It was this class that welcomed 
us with smiling faces and many a "God ble^s you," and mingled their 
cheers with ours as we marched through the streets of Richmond 
between crowded sidewalks of these dark-faced sons of unrequited toil. 
Long and patiently had they waited, never mistaking the issue nor 
doubting the result. 

Nothing is more remarkable in the whole history of the war than the 
knowledge and corresponding action of the slaves of the South. Unable 
to read, and without a chance to know or hear anything but from their 
master's side of the conflict, they seemed, intuitively, to understand the 
full intent and consequence of the mad attempt to dissolve the Union 
from the first gun fired upon Fort Sumter, and felt it shake the shackles 
of their bondage. Thev heard it as the key-note of their redemption that 
was to reverberate down the ages of coming time. 

"Well, Sambo, what think you of this ? " asked one of the soldiers of 
an aged negro who stood, a picture for an artist, with a broad grin upon 
his ebony face, waving a big bandanna fastened to the end of his cane 
as the troops marched by 

"Tears though de jubilee has come at last, and de Lord be praised," 
responded the old patriarch. 

Such was the trusty bondman s faith, and he proved it by his works 
when and wherever the opportunity was given him. 

No soldier in blue ever asked for food or shelter from him in vain, if 
within his power to render or supply, even though he did so at the risk 
of his own life. In perfect trust and confidence the Union soldier had 
learned to seek aid or refuge within the hovel of the slave, for he knew 
he would neither be denied nor betrayed. 

Surrounded by traitors he alone stood loyal, and always proved true 
to the stars and stripes, for which he bravely fought as soon as per- 
mitted to do so, and upon which he now looked through tears of joy as 
they floated triumphantly, in the bright sunlight of that April morn, over 
the dome of what, but an hour before, was the capitol of the slave 
holder's Confederacy 

It was from this patriotic race that exclamations of joy and praise, 
varied and multifold, greeted our ears upon every side. 

It would be impossible to recall them all now, but they were most 
interestingly amusing to the boys who heard them then. It seemed 
quite beyond their widest range of thought to find words to express their 

272 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

gladness. "God bless you " was on almost every tongue; and no one 
could doubt, who saw and heard, but it came from the heart. Among 
their many queer and comical expressions and ejaculations, memory 
recalls but a very few of the most witty and unique : 

"Who's boss, now?" " We s all black and blue (referring to their 
own crowd and the blue uniforms of the soldiers), ver see, but '1 isn't 
we uns that's beaten." " Rec on Marsa woun't 'spect to fool us am- 
mo e.'' " Yankee Doodle forever ! Hurrah ! " " Golly ! is n't I glad I s 
alive?" " Here's what I've prayed fo' so long. Oh, bless de Lord for 
eber and eber ! " " But one mo'e jump to Heben ! " " Blue 's de color 
for me, if I am black." " I 's a white woman now ; take dis chile." 

But not only were they rewarded for their faith and devotion by the 
sight of the old flag, which was now to them no longer a mockery but 
the symbol of freedom, for their joy burst out into the wildest enthusiasm 
when the next day the great Emancipator himself, all unexpected, rode 
through the streets of the city 

When it became certain that it was really "Marsa Abraham" that was 
in their midst, there was such a rush to see and speak with him that it 
was almost impossible, at times, for his carriage to move. A number of 
bright eyed and woolly headed urchins, taking advantage of this delay, 
climbed upon the top of the carriage and took a peep at him over the rim, 
greatly to the amusement of the President. 

His reception in a city which, only a day or two before, had been the 
headquarters and centre of the Rebellion, was most remarkable : and 
more resembled the triumphal return from, than an entry into the 
enemy's capital. Instead of the streets being silent and vacated, they 
were filled with men, women, and children, shouting and cheering 
wherever he went. 

" I'd rather see him than see Jesus,'" excitedly exclaims one woman, 
as she runs ahead of the crowd to get a full view of his benign counte- 
nance. " De kingdom's come, and de Lord is wid us," chants another. 
"Hallelujah!" shouts a third; and so on through a whole volume ot 
prayers, praises, blessings, and benedictions showered down upon him, 
the great emancipator of a race, and the saviour of his country, thus 
redeemed, as he walked slowly forward with smiling face and uncovered 
head, greater and happier in his plain and unassuming presence than 
ever Persian king or Roman conqueror with all the pomp and blazonry 
of ill-gotten wealth and power. 

From the " Rocketts," where the President, accompanied by Admiral 
Porter and other naval officers, landed from a gun-boat, to General 
Weitzel's headquarters at the late residence of Jefferson Davis, it was 
one triumphal march. Crowds surrounded the house and sent up cheer 
after cheer After the officers were presented to him, the citizens gen- 
erally were allowed the high honor and glad privilege of taking his hand 
in theirs. He was dressed in a long, black overcoat, high silk hat, and 
black pants, giving to his form a very commanding appearance. 

SVezv Hampshire Volunteers. 273 

Subsequently the President and his suite, with a cavalry escort of 
colored troops, appeared on the square, drawn in a carriage and four, and 
was driven round the works. Everywhere the reception was the same — 
bands playing and crowds besieging the grounds, each anxious for a 
closer inspection of the distinguished occupant of the carriage. 

It was in the chair and on the desk of the fugitive Ex-Confederate 
chief (for the sceptre of his command was already broken) that Presi- 
dent Lincoln sat and wrote his famous order in relation to the reassem- 
bling of the Virginia legislature, which, though never carried out in the 
manner and spirit intended, showed, nevertheless, his statesmanlike 
wisdom, as well as that noble magnanimity which is only allied with the 
highest type of human greatness. No wonder that the intelligent citizens 
of the South, who had already learned to respect and were willing to 
trust him, should have so deeply regretted his untimely death. 

But it was not the colored population alone that welcomed the Union 
troops and their great commander-in-chief into the city of Richmond. 
Thousands of the white citizens were glad to be again under the protec- 
tion of the flag of their fathers: and some, who had been true to it from 
the first, keeping it safely hidden away as a sacred emblem of their loy- 
alty, were more happy, if possible, though less demonstrative, than the 
negro, as they once more were allowed the privilege of spreading its 
bright folds to the free air of heaven. 

In another letter, written a few days later, Sergeant Clarke says : 

Of all the sights I ever saw, Richmond, on the 3d of April, was the hardest. 
The people were literallv starving. The market looked as if it had not had a 
pound of meat in it for years. The stores were all empty or burned, women 
and children begging for something to eat, and a great many old men and boys 
had gone into the army rather than go hungry at home. The rebel army had to 
be fed, if the citizens starved. 

A conversation overheard by one of the regiment shows that even some 
of the aristocratic were not entirely blind to the scene before them and 
the cause of it, and were obliged to give the "Yankee devils" their due 
of praise for saving their property and the city, and feeding their 
starving families. 

"Who would have thought of this ? Our enemies, whom we have so 
long fought and hated, our saviours at last ! See them doing everything 
they can to save our property from the flames that our own soldiers have 
kindled to destroy " "Yes," remarks another, both apparently belonging 
to the wealthy class, " not satisfied with pillaging our houses and robbing 
us of everything to eat, they are willing to see our homes and city de- 
voured by the flames. But I suppose they were ordered to do so, and 
are but destructive tools in the hands of desperate leaders." 

"So much the worse for the leaders," replies the first speaker. "The 
fact is, we have been blindly following such leaders altogether too long ; 


274 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

followed not simply like sheep to the slaughter, but like fools to this very 
brink of ruin upon which in poverty, humiliation, and shame we are now 
standing. But, thank God, my eyes are open at last, and I am heartily 
glad that the reign of Jeff. Davis & Co. has come to an end." 

Closely akin to the sentiments thus plainly spoken is the following 
communication published in the "Richmond Whig" of April 4, the day 
after the possession of the city by our troops : 

Once more through the mercy and favor of Him who is the giver of all good, 
we have the inexpressible joy and glorious privilege of greeting the flag of the 
Union. For four years we have been a down-trodden and oppressed people. 
Volumes could not contain or express the misery, suffering, and oppression which 
we have been subjected to. The darkest pages of the world's history reveal 
nothing that can be compared to the terrible ordeal through which we have 
passed. We should De grateful indeed for this token of Divine favor in deliver- 
ing us from the most tyrannical and despotic government which has existed since 
" darkness was changed into light." 

We shall now soon have the peace, prosperity, and happiness which was once 
ours, and enjoy the freedom and liberty which was vouchsafed us by our sires of 
the Revolution. 

Concerning the evacuation of Richmond, the following from the pen 
of Capt. Clement Sulivan, an Ex-Confederate soldier, gives an interest- 
ing view of the situation during the afternoon and night before the entry 
of our troops : * 

About 11.30 A. M., on Sunday, April 2, a strange agitation was perceptible 
on the streets of Richmond, and before half an hour it was known on all sides 
that Lee's lines had been broken below Petersburg; that he was in full retreat 
on Danville ; that the troops covering the city at Chapin's and Drury's Bluffs 
were on the point of being withdrawn, and that the city was forthwith to be 

A singular security had been felt by the citizens, so that the news fell like a 
bomb-shell in a peaceful camp, and dismay reigned supreme. 

All the Sabbath day the trains came and went, wagons, vehicles, and horse- 
men rumbled and dashed to and fro, and in the evening ominous groups of 
ruffians, more or less in liquor, began to make their appearance on the principal 
thoroughfares of the city. As night came on, pillage, rioting, and robbing took 
place. The police and a few soldiers were at hand, and, after the arrest of a few 
ringleaders and the more riotous of their followers, a fair degree of order was 
restored ; but Richmond saw few sleeping eyes during the pandemonium of that 
ni°"ht. * * * 

I was at this time assistant adjutant-general of Gen. G. W C. Lee's division, 
in Ewell's corps, and was in the city on some detached duty. * * * * 

Upon receipt of the news from Petersburg, I reported to General Ewell — then 
in the city — for instructions, and was ordered to assemble and command the 
local brigade, cause it to be well supplied with provisions and ammunition and 
await further orders. All that day and night I was engaged in this duty, but 

' .Sue Century's War linok, Vol. IV. 

JWr;' Hampshire Volunteers. 275 

with small results, as the battalions melted away as fast as they were formed — 
mainlv under orders from the heads of departments who needed all their em- 
ployes in the transportation and guarding of the archives, etc., but partly, no 
doubt, from desertions. When morning dawned fewer than two hundred men 
remained under the command of Capt. Edward Mayo. 

Shortly before day General Ewell rode in person to my headquarters, and 
informed me that Gen. G. \Y C. Lee's division was then crossing the pontoon 
at Drury's ; that he would destroy it and press on to join the main army ; that all 
the bridges over the river had been destroyed, except Mayo's, between Richmond 
and Manchester, and that the wagon bridge over the canal in front of Mayo's 
had already been burned by Union emissaries. My command was to hasten to 
Mayo's bridge and protect it, and the one remaining foot-bridge over the canal 
leading to it, until General Gary, of South Carolina, should arrive. I hurried to 
my command, and fifteen minutes later occupied Mayo's at the foot of Fourteenth 
street, and made military disposition to protect it to the last extremity. 

This done, I had nothing to do but listen for sounds, and gaze upon the terrible 
splendor of the scene. And such a scene probably the world has seldom wit- 
nessed. Either incendiaries or fragments of bombs from the arsenals had fired 
several buildings, and the two cities, Richmond and Manchester, were like a 
blaze of day amid the surrounding darkness. Three high-arched bridges were 
in flames; beneath them the waters sparkled, dashed, and rushed on by the 
burning cities. Every now and then, as a magazine exploded, a column of white 
smoke rose up as high as the eye could reach, instantly followed by a deafening 
sound. The earth seemed to rock and tremble, as with the shock of an earth- 
quake, and immediately afterward hundreds of shells would explode in air and 
send their iron spray down far below the bridge. As the immense magazines 
of cartridges ignited, the rattle as of thousands of muskets would follow, and 
then all was still for the moment, except the dull roar and crackle of the fast- 
spreading fires. At dawn we heard terrific explosions about "The Rocketts " 
from the unfinished ironclads down the river. 

At daylight, on the 3d, a mob of men, women, and children to the number of 
several thousands had gathered at the corner of Fourteenth and Cary streets, 
and other outlets near the bridge, attracted by the vast commissary depot 
at that point; for it must be remembered, that in 1865 Richmond was a half- 
starved city, and the Confederate government had that morning removed its 
guards and abandoned the removal of the provisions which it was impossible to 
move for the want of transportation. The depot doors were forced open and a 
demoniacal struggle for the countless barrels of hams, bacon, whiskey, flour, 
sugar, coffee, etc., raged about the buildings among the hungry mob. The gut- 
ters ran whiskey, and it was lapped up, as it flowed down the streets, while all 
fought for a share of the plunder. The flames came nearer and nearer, and at 
last caught in the commissariat itself. 

At daylight the approach of the Union forces could be plainly discerned. 
After a little came the clatter of horses' hoofs, galloping up Main street. My 
infantry guard stood to arms, and the engineer officer lighted a torch of fat pine. 
By direction of the Engineer Department, barrels of tar, surrounded by pine 
knots, had been placed at intervals on the bridge, with kerosene at hand, and a 
lieutenant of engineers had reported for the duty of firing them at my order. 

276 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

The noisy train proved to be Gary's ambulances, sent forward preparatory to 
his final rush for the bridge. The muleteers galloped their animals about half- 
way down, when they were stopped by the dense mass of human beings. 
Rapidly communicating to Captain Mayo my instructions from General Ewell, 
I ordered that officer to stand firm at his post until Gary got up. 

I then rode forward into the mob and cleared a lane, and ambulances were 
driven swiftly down to the bridge. I retired to my post, and the mob closed in 
after me and resumed its wild struggle for plunder. A few minutes later a long 
line of cavalry in gray turned into Fourteenth street, and, sword in hand, gal- 
loped straight down to the river. Gary had come. The mob scattered right 
and left before the armed horsemen, who reined up at the canal. Presently a 
single company of cavalry appeared in sight, and rode at a head-long speed to 
the bridge. "My rear-guard," exclaimed Gary. Touching his hat to me, he 

called out: "All over, good bye; blow her to h 1," and trotted over the 

bridge. This was the first and last I ever saw of General Gary, of South 

In less than sixty seconds Captain Mayo was in column of march, and as he 
reached the little island, about half-way across the bridge, the single piece of 
artillery, loaded with grape-shot, that had occupied that spot, arrived on the 
Manchester side of the river. The engineer officer, Dr. Lyons, and I walked 
leisurely to the island, setting fire to the provided combustible matter, as we 
passed along, and leaving the north section of the bridge wrapped in flames and 
smoke. At the island we stopped to take a view of the situation north of the 
river, and saw a line of blue-coated horsemen riding in furious haste up Main 
street. Across Fourteenth street they stopped and then dashed down that street 
to the flaming bridge. They fired a few random shots at us there on the island, 
and we retreated to Manchester. I ordered my command forward ; the lieuten- 
ant of engineers saluted and went about his business, while mv companion and 
myself sat on our horses for nearly a half-hour watching the occupation of Rich- 
mond. We saw another line of horsemen in blue pass up Main street, then we 
saw a dense column of infantry march by, seemingly without end ; we heard the 
very walls ring with cheers as the United States forces reached Capitol square, 
and then we turned and slowly rode on our way. 

A further description of that terrible night to the citizens of Richmond 
is copied from the evening edition of the " Richmond Whig," of April 6, 
1865, which now, August 6, 1894, lies before the writer: 

For a month past the Confederates have been evacuating the city with all the 
speed and means they could command, but somehow the people refused to be- 
lieve that the removal meant evacuation, and all declared that the measures were 
only precautionary. 

Matters went on in this way until last Sunday, the Confederates hurrying away 
every species of property, the people blindly refusing to believe that the city was 
to be given up, and clinging to their Confederate shinplasters as if they were 
things of worth. 

Sunday morning General Lee telegraphed to Davis, giving an account of the 
general attack upon his lines, and stating that the lines had been pierced in several 

~Yt~zi' Hampshire Volunteers. 277 

places and that unless he could re-establish them, Richmond must be given up 
that night. His tone for the first time since the war was despondent; he said 
bis men were not coming up to their work. 

At 1 1 o'clock that morning he telegraphed again that all efforts to re-establish 
his lines had been utterly unsuccessful. Immediately began among the officials 
in Richmond, a scurry and panic, still the majority of the people were in the 
dark, and refusing to believe their eyes, remained many of them till night. The 
gold and silver coin belonging to the Louisiana banks, and recentlv appropriated 
bv the Confederate Congress, was run down to the Danville train with hot haste. 
So also was the specie of the Richmond banks. * * * * 

Here follows what the editor calls the " programme of departure," rela- 
tive to the trains and Confederate officials, Davis departing on train at 
7 p. m.. and Breckinridge going on horseback with the last of the army 
the next morning ; and also an account of the cowardly flight of Gover- 
nor Smith, and the wise and timely action of the Mayor and Council in 
ordering the destruction of all liquors in the city, and making prepara- 
tions for surrendering the citv, and asking the protection of life and 
property bv our troops : 

In the meantime a saturnalia had begun in the citv, About dusk the govern- 
ment commissaries began the destruction of an immense quantity of whiskey 
and brandv stored in the large building at the corner of Pearl and Cary streets. 
Several hundred soldiers and citizens gathered in front of the building and con- 
trived to save much of the liquor in pitchers, bottles, and basins. This liquor 
was not slow in manifesting itself. The crowd quickly became a mob and began 
to howl. Soon other crowds collected in front of other government warehouses, 
and some attempts were made to distribute siq^plies, but so frenzied had the mob 
become that the officers in charge, in many cases, had to flee for their lives. 

All through the night crowds of men, women, and children traversed the 
streets, running from one storehouse to another, loading themselves with all 
kinds of supplies to be thrown away immediately on something more tempting 
offering itself. Men could be seen rolling hogsheads of molasses, bacon, and 
sugar, barrels of liquor, and bushels of tea and coffee; others had wheelbarrows 
loaded with all manner of goods, while others again had gone into the plunder- 
ing business on a large scale, and were operating with bags, furniture wagons, 
and drays. This work went on fast and furious until after midnight, about 
which time a large number of straggling Confederate soldiers made their appear- 
ance on the street, and at once set about robbing the principal stores on Main 
street. The scenes that then followed have been already described. There was 
a regular sack. * * * * 

Next follows an account of General Ewell's order to fire the four prin- 
cipal tobacco warehouses of the city, and the vain efforts of the mayor 
and a committee of leading citizens to have the order revoked. Their 
expressions of fear that the firing of the warehouses would destroy the 
city were met by the reply that it was all "a cowardly pretext, trumped 
up on the part of the citizens to save their property for the Yankees." 

27S History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

The Confederate authorities, fearing civil resistance to the execution of 
their " barbarous work" had guarded against that by holding back •' two 
large battalions of Southern troops, every man of whom hated Virginia 
and Virginians and longed for nothing more than to see the last house in 
the city a ruin." 

Two divisions — Kershaw's and Curtis Lee's — with several small batteries 
were holding the lines below the city. Gradually during the night, these troops 
were withdrawn by brigades. 

The first movements were orderly enough, but toward morning the retreat be- 
came a wild flight. It was one of the ghastliest sights of that awful night to see 
long lines of men flitting like unholy shades through the crowded streets, their 
forms made hideous by the glare of the incendiary fires that already began to 

The train of fugitives poured on unbroken up Main street, down Fourteenth 
street, until broad daylight broke upon the scene before the last one passed over the 
bridge already in flames. * * * * 

Here nearly half a column of the paper is filled with an account of the 
firing of the city in many places beside the tobacco houses, and a brief 
description of the conflagration, ending with these words : " By 7 
o'clock a. m. nearly the whole of the city south of Main street, between 
Eighth and Fifteenth streets, and Tenth and Twenty-third streets was 
one great sea of flames." 

It was part of the programme that Gary's cavalry should be the last Confeder- 
ate troops to leave the lines below Richmond. They were to come stealthily 
upon the city about daylight, catch up all stragglers and citizens thev could lay 
hold on, and hurry them oft' with the army. This part of the plan was frus- 
trated by the rapid advance of the Union forces. 

Gary passed up Main street not five minutes ahead of the Union column, and 
so far from dragging oft" others he barely saved himself. Mayo's bridge and the 
Danville were then all of a blaze. Gary crossed the dock by the bridge at the 
southern terminus of Seventeenth street, and then set fire to the structure. 

Two citizens, William J. Brown and Robert Allen, chancing to be in the 
neighborhood, rushed to the bridge and extinguished the flames before they had 
gained headway. While so engaged, they were fired upon by Gary's men, but 
fortunately neither of them was struck. Gary then sped away over Mayo's 
bridge which was burning from end to end, and almost on the point of falling 

1 »-* n~ lfc 'K ■sf» 

The editor then refers to the approach, entry, and good work of our 
troops in putting out the fires and restoring order and confidence, and 
concludes as follows : 

Truly the ways of Providence are inscrutable. 

The burning of our goodly city would seem at first glance an unmitigated evil. 
But there is another view to be taken of it. It has had one good effect. If 

JYezv Hampshire Volunteers. 279 

there lingered in the hearts of any of our people one spark of affection for the 
Davis dynasty, their ruthless, useless, wanton handing over to the flames their 
fair city, their homes and altars, has extinguished it forever. 

There has been much written, and a long dispute upon the question of 
what troops first entered the city of Richmond after its evacuation by the 
rebel forces. 

The historian of the Thirteenth New Hampshire Volunteers devotes 
several pages in answer to this question, claiming a large share of the 
credit and honor for that regiment. Now, while we would much quicker 
add as many pages more in praise of its brave record, than detract one 
single sentence from its just deserts, the stern demand of duty made upon 
everyone who assumes the grave responsibility of truthfully representing 
the past for the instruction and guidance of the future, without fear or 
favor of the living, and in full justice to the dead, requires us to kindly 
suggest to the author of that very well written and interesting work, that 
in his very laudable desire to give his regiment full credit for everything 
that can in any way ennoble its record, he may have assumed some things 
as facts because stated to him as such, without sufficiently examining the 
evidence pro and con. 

Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, who was then in command of all the Union 
forces around Richmond, north of the James, in a letter written by him 
and published in the " Philadelphia Weekly Times" of August 27, 1881, 
says : 

At the same time I directed my senior aide-de-camp, Maj. Emmons E. Graves, 
and my provost marshal, Maj. Atherton H. Stevens, Jr., to take a detachment of 
about forty men from two companies of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, 
attached to my headquarters, and as soon as they could possibly get through the 
rebel lines to advance toward Richmond on a reconnoissance. I then telegraphed 
the state of affairs north of the James to Generals Grant and Hortsuft". As 
soon as I could see, I passed through Kautz's lines and the rebel lines in his 
front with my staff" and orderlies. We then rode along the Osborne pike, and 
when we arrived at its junction with the New Market road we saw Devens's 
division coming up, marching rapidly. Upon looking to the rear we saw 
Kautz's division coming up the pike at a similar gait. I afterward understood 
that the two columns met here, and that Devens claimed the pike by virtue of 
seniority in rank, and that Kautz yielded it on that account, but struck out 
straight across the fields. When we entered Richmond we found ourselves in a 
perfect pandemonium. Fires and explosions in all directions, whites and blacks 
either drunk or in the highest state of excitement, running to and fro on the 
streets, apparently engaged in pillage, or in saving some of their scanty effects 
from the fire. It was a yelling, howling mob. Major Graves had reconnoitered 
up to the Capitol square in the city. Outside the city he had been met by Mayor 
Mayo and others of Richmond, and received its surrender. 

When the mob saw my staff and myself, they rushed around us, hugged and 
kissed our legs and horses, shouting " Hallelujah ! " and " Glory! " I escaped 

280 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

considerable of this disagreeable infliction by an amusing circumstance. Maj. 
William V Hatchings, of Roxbury, Mass., rode by my side. lie was dressed 
in full uniform, except epaulettes, and had the regulation equipments, etc., on 
his horse. He had quite a venerable and handsome appearance. I was in un- 
dress uniform. The mob naturally supposed Hutchings to be the general, and 
he received the bulk of kisses and attentions. Colonel Adams asked, as a special 
favor, to be allowed to march his regiment through the citv, and I granted it. 
I was told that this fine regiment of colored men made a very great impression 
on those citizens who saw it. * * * * 

There was some dispute as to which troops first entered Richmond, white or 
colored. Majors Graves and Stevens, with the forty or more men of the Fourth 
Massachusetts Cavalry, were the first to enter. Then there was some dispute as 
to the first flag hoisted over Richmond after its capture. This detachment of 
Massachusetts cavalry had two guidons with it. These guidons were raised first 
— one at each end of the Capitol building — and were, therefore, the first United 
States colors raised. General Shepley had the first flag raised in New Orleans 
after its capture with him, and an aide-de-camp on his staff, Lieutenant DclV\ ster, 
carried it into Richmond, under his uniform, and hoisted it over the Capitol, upon 
the large flag-staff". This was, therefore, the first real American flag which was 

Supplementary to the foregoing statement of General Weitzel, is the 
testimony of Thomas Thatcher Graves, of Danielsonville, Conn., who 
was also an aide-de-camp to General Weitzel at that time. In a letter to 
the " Boston Globe," dated April 26, 1885, after referring to and quoting 
from Weitzel's letter, he very pertinently adds : 

This testimony from the general commanding the forces at the fall of Rich- 
mond ought to forever settle the question as to what troops first entered the city 
and who first raised the flag. 

Upon arriving at the Capitol grounds I saw the guidons upon the top ot the 
roof of the State Capitol, and Messrs. Graves and Stevens reported to General 
Weitzel that they were fired upon from a distance by the mob when they went 
out upon the roof to plant the guidons. It was a bold and plucky thing to do ; and 
never has been sufficiently recognized. These two men, guarded by only iorty 
cavalrymen, went alone out onto the top of the Capitol, hauled down the rebel 
flag, and hoisted those flags in the face of a drunken, howling mob of soldiers, 
in the heart of a city, around which a million of men had fought for the posses- 
sion for four -sears. 

Lieutenant Pevster did not go upon the roof until our troops had been in pos- 
session for some time and the guidons of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry had 
floated in full view for a number of hours. If the regiment has those guidons 
now in their possession, they ought to be framed in gold. 

Cumulative evidence from many might be adduced, if necessary, in cor- 
roboration of what has already been given, but we will only refer to that 
of the celebrated war correspondent, C. C. Collin, who, over the signa- 
ture of ■' Carleton," wrote so vividly and accurately of what he saw and 

JCezv Hampshire Volunteers. 281 

heard as to make himself famous on both sides of the Atlantic. In his 
correspondence for the '* Boston Journal" will be found a substantial con- 
firmation of what has just been written upon the subject. 

The next troops and first infantry to enter the city were doubtlessly the 
picket line of the Second Division of the Twenty-fourth Corps, com- 
manded by General Devens ; but whether the First or Second Brigade 
had the lead is not so certain. 

Until the publication of the history of the Thirteenth Regiment it had 
been understood and generally conceded that the pickets of the Second 
Brigade were first in the city after the cavalry But it is claimed by the 
author of that work that not only was the First Brigade, with that regi- 
ment at the head of the column, foremost on the march toward and into 
the rebel capital, but that their pickets were ahead in the chase for the 
same coveted goal, and the first to reach the Capitol itself, before any 
Union flag or guidon had been raised thereon. 

Allowing all this to be correct would be to ignore the protests and 
remonstrances of hundreds, living and dead, many of whom were wit- 
nesses to, or actual participants in, those exciting scenes, including the 
chief actor. General Weitzel himself. 

Capt. Warren M. Kelley. of the Tenth New Hampshire Regiment, who 
is now living at Martin s Ferry, X. H., was in command of the picket- 
line of the Second Brigade on that eventful day; and from his statement, 
taken in connection with that of Lieut. Royal B. Prescott, of the Thir- 
teenth New Hampshire, who was at that time senior officer, as he claims, 
in charge of the picket line of the First Brigade, and whose statement at 
large is given in the history of his regiment, as the principal authority 
for the claim of priority therein set up, it appears quite evident that the 
former must have led the first infantry troops of the Union army into the 
capital of the Southern Confederacy 

If this conclusion be correct, as, viewed in the light of many other 
reliable sources, it seems to be, then should Captain Kelley, and the offi- 
cers and men under him, have all the honor that belongs to them. 

In reply to a letter written him by the author a few years ago, Captain 
Kelly responded as follows : 

At your request I submit the following, not from memory alone, but from his- 
tory made at the time, and printed in the Richmond daily papers. 

April 2, 1S65, I was in command of the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, 
then encamped on Chapin's Farm, near Fort Harrison, Va. On this date I was 
detailed to command the picket-line of the Second Brigade, Third Division, 
Twenty-fourth Army Corps ; and while on duty as such, at or near midnight, I 
received an order from General Devens, commanding the division, to advance 
my line of pickets at early daylight against the rebel works. 

I immediately rode along the picket-line and gave the order as I received it. 
Early daylight was near 4 o'clock at that time of year in Virginia. We had 
seen the rebel picket fires during the night, showing them still at their posts, but 
the boys, all old veterans, were ready to obey the order. 

282 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

We held nearly one half-mile of line along the rebel front, and as we advanced 
toward the enemy's pickets, we saw in the direction of Richmond, a light, and 
heard a rumbling sound. As we came near the rebel line, their fires were still 
burning, but no soldiers could be seen around or near them. We soon came to 
their breastworks, and Fort Gilmer, which was near the centre of our line, but 
found all vacated by the rebels, who had left their tents and cannon behind them, 
and everything indicated a hasty retreat. 

From here we marched rapidly on, the boys all eager to gain the rebel capital, 
about seven miles distant, as soon as possible. We met with no opposition nor 
received any orders from any one. The first soldiers I saw were a colored guard 
coming up in our rear, that belonged to General Weitzel's command. At this 
point we entered the main road, and I called my men from skirmish line to col- 
umn of fours. We soon neared the outskirts of the city, and entered it near 
where two roads crossed, marching through what was called "The Rocketts," 
which seemed to be a kind of landing place for rebel gun-boats and other craft. 
From this place we saw in the distance some negroes unrolling something. As 
we neared them, we saw it was an old United States flag. I brought my com- 
mand to a halt, which was the first I had made since we started. 

I had about two hundred men when I gave the order to advance, but nearly fifty 
had fallen out, as we marched nearly half the way on a "double-quick." I re- 
quested the negroes to go upon the top of the building, which had a flat roof, and 
raise the old flag, which they immediately did. I then commanded my men to 
give the flag three cheers, which being done with a will, we marched on, going 
up Main street, passing the State House and grounds. 

During our march into Richmond we saw no Union soldiers, except two or 
three cavalrymen, riding at will, and under no command ; and we saw no rebel 
soldiers, except non-combatants, in rebel uniform, but unarmed. 

While marching up Main street. I enquired where Jeft*. Davis lived, and was 
told by some of the colored population, who thronged our way, that " Marsa 
Davis" lived quite a distance beyond the State House. Upon arriving in front of 
his residence, I at once detailed an officer and men to enter the house, and make 
a report of what they found there. After a quick inspection, they reported that 
no valuables could be found, but that everything else remained seemingly just as 
he had hurriedly left them. I then, in company with some of the officers of the 
line, entered the building, and found the report true. A few servants had been 
left there in charge. 

While my command was standing there in line, I received orders from Devens 
to patrol the streets of the city until relieved by other troops. 

To the question that may arise about the time my line entered Richmond, you 
can judge something by the distance and rapid march thither. I do not propose 
to rob any other soldiers of the honor of entering the rebel capital before the 
picket-line that I happened to command, if they can establish their claim against 
us upon any evidence that will bear investigation. 

The regiments represented in my command were the Tenth and Twelfth 
New Hampshire, Ninety-sixth and One Hundred and Eighteenth New "\ ork, 
Fifth Maryland, and Ninth Vermont; and the different states from which these 
soldiers enlisted can all claim an equal share of whatever credit and honor that 
belongs to them for being the first troops, except a few cavalrymen, to enter the 
city of Richmond after its evacuation. 

New Hampshire Volunteers. 283 

I have written this statement at the request of a historian, and I subscribe to 
it as only a brief part of what may be truthfully recorded concerning the subject 
to which it especially refers. 

Lieutenant Prescott, of the Thirteenth Regiment, already referred to, 
who claims that he was in command of the picket line of the First 
Brigade ; that his men were the first Union troops to enter Richmond ; 
and whose statement the historian of his regiment seems to accept as 
true, is very evidently mistaken ; first in the extent of his command, and 
second in supposing that his men were in advance of all others, not ex- 
cepting even the cavalry He might have been, and probably was in 
command of the picket detail from his own regiment, instead of the 
whole brigade line. And this is the only reasonable view that can be 
taken when we consider that an officer of no higher rank than a lieuten- 
ant would not have been selected as commanding officer of a brigade 
picket line, and especially where so much was pending, and the picket 
force such an important factor in the great and difficult problem to be 
solved ; for it was a thing very seldom done, even when there was noth- 
ing of an}- special interest or importance likely to occur. And this view 
becomes clearer and more satisfactory when it appears from the editorial 
statement of Henry A. Pollard in the " Richmond Times," of April 28, 
1865, as quoted in support of his claim* that Lieutenant Prescott, from 
whom the editor most unmistakably got his information, had only about 
thirty men in his command. 

Pollard's exact words are here given : 

Lieutenant Keener with about thirty men here [just before entering the city] 
joined Lieutenant Prescott's squad, which numbered about the same. 

Prescott himself says in his statement that : 

Soon after halting here we were joined by Lieut. David S. Keener, of the 
Fifth Maryland, and a small squad of his men. They had come up from some 
point still further to the left than we had been, between my picket line and the 
James. His men joined mine, making in all a company of about sixty or seventy 

Now, to put the most favorable construction upon the foregoing state- 
ments that they will admit of, it leaves less than fifty men as the whole 
number of pickets belonging to the First Brigade ! 

To every old soldier this alone would be conclusive evidence of a grave 
mistake somewhere, and fatal to any claim that might rest to any consid- 
erable extent upon it. 

But the windows of light and truth open still wider when it becomes 
known that Lieutenant Keener was an officer of the picket line of the 
Second Brigade, and his squad falling in the rear, because, being on the 
extreme right, it had further to go, he was ordered by Captain Kelly, in 

* See History of the Thirteenth Regiment, page 564. 

-S4 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

command of the picket line of that brigade, to bring up the rear as fast 
as possible and pick up any stragglers he might come across who had 
been obliged to fall out because of the rapid advance. 

Captain Kelly, in refutation of Lieutenant Prescott's claim of leading 
the first organized troops into Richmond, in a statement written for and 
published in the " Manchester Union'' a few years ago, says : 

Lieutenant Keener belonged to the Fifth Maryland Volunteers, and was de- 
tailed for the skirmish line * of the Second Brigade, and was left behind to pick 
up stragglers from that command ; so it is very evident that Lieutenant Prcscott 
was in the rear of the Second Brigade skirmishers* when he joined the skirmish- 
ers * of the First Brigade. 

It also appears in the Captain's statement that the pickets of the Second 
Brigade whom he commanded, and which was about the same size of the 
First Brigade, numbered nearly or quite two hundred men from which he 
concludes as every old soldier must, '' that Lieutenant Prescott's men 
must have been the detail of his regiment, instead of the First Brigade in 

Now when it is considered that the pickets of the Second Brigade 
were nearer Richmond than those of the First Brigade, and that the for- 
mer moved first, acting upon the orders of the night before, while the 
latter awaited the orders of Colonel Bamberger, division officer of the 
day, which were not given, according to Lieutenant Prescott's account, 
until after 4.30 in the morning ; that the picket line of the First Brigade 
halted two or three times and waited for some time en route, and yet saw 
nothing of the picket line of the Second Brigade, except a small squad 
left behind, and that the main line of this brigade picket never halted at 
all until it entered the city, there is no ground left for any other con- 
clusion, than that the pickets of the Second Brigade, Third Division, 
Twenty-fourth Corps were the first infantry troops of the Union army to 
enter the city of Richmond after its evacuation. And the correctness of 
this conclusion is supported by statements made in the " Richmond 
Whig," including both the daily issues of the 4th and 5th of April, 1865, 
from one of which is taken the following : 

Captain Warren M. Kelley, Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers, was in com- 
mand of the skirmish line| of the Second Brigade, commanded by (ion. V. 1 
Donohoe, Third Division, Twenty-fourth Army Corps, which was the iirst 
organized body of troops to enter the city, under the direction of Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Bamberger, Fifth Maryland Volunteers, division officer of the day. * * 
* * Capt. II. Q. Sargent, Twelfth New Hampshire Volunteers, was in com- 
mand of the left win^ of the skirmish line.| * * * * 

Captain Kelley advanced his line of skirmishers* through several streets of the 
city, and halted in front of Jeff. Davis's mansion, and by the direction of the start 
officers, above mentioned, divided his command into squads and patroled the 
city until relieved by other troops. 

' Pickets lire the troops referred to. 1 Picket line is meant. 

JCczv Hampshire \'ohintccrs. 285 

And to put the matter beyond all reasonable doubt it need only be 
mentioned that Lieutenant Prescott acknowledges that "upon the crest 
of the high land known as 'Tree Hill* — very near Richmond — we 
rested a tew minutes"; that "soon after halting here we were joined by 
Lieutenant Keener": and that he halted again at "Gillie's Creek, 
stacked arms and the tired men threw themselves down upon the ground 
to rest," and remained there, because stopped by three cavalrymen, as he 
savs, until General Weitzel came up, which must have been for nearly 
half an hour or more ; and yet he makes no mention of having seen any- 
thing of the pickets of the Second Brigade, except the "small squad'' 
under Lieutenant Keener, either upon his flank or in his rear. In fact 
he says he did not see any other Union soldiers except General Weitzel 
and staff and the three cavalrvmen. 

Where, during all this time, were the other pickets of the Second 
Brigade? If behind, is it possible that the}' could be so far in the rear 
as not to be in sight, even from " Free Hill " that gave a clear view of 
both the Newmarket and Osburn roads, which unite near there, for a 
long distance back? This, as a rcduclio ad absitrdioii, seems to settle 
the whole matter 

In this connection the morning experience and exercise of some of the 
Twelfth bovs in the grand race for " Dixie Town" may give a relish to 
this historic hash, as it may be called, for the reader will surely think it 
a mixed up mess as it really was at that time, still is, and will always 

And from Prescott, the " Royal," of the Thirteenth, we will now turn 
our attention for a while to Capt. John II. Prescott, of the Twelfth. 

He was at that time — but we will let him tell his own story 

On the night Richmond fell I was brigade officer of the day. As such I was 
making my "grand round" about 3.30 in the morning, and, upon arriving at 
that portion of the brigade picket line held by the Twelfth, boom ! boom ! boom ! 
came the sounds from up toward Richmond. There were three loud explo- 
sions. We knew the rebels were blowing up something, and that it probably 
meant evacuation. I at once ordered the pickets, not on post, to be up and 
ready to march at once. Capt. H. Q. Sargent was in charge of the Twelfth 
boys there, and he with alacrity went to work, while I rode along the rest of the 
brigade line and gave the same orders and returned to our regiment front. Just 
as I got there, up rode an aide from division headquarters, and gave the order to 
move forward at once. Our pickets had been going on picket for some time 
with knapsacks all ready for a move, and now they were quickly slung and the 
boys started out. I put spurs to my horse, and in a twinkling was at brigade 
headquarters. I told General Donohoe that the pickets had started, and asked 
leave to return and go along with them. This was refused. 

The troops got oft* as soon as possible. They found no enemy in front any- 
where. Just as fast as abatis lines could be cleared away, ditches crossed, and 
parapets cleared, they went on. Our brigade, after passing over the inner line 
of works, struck a road leading to Richmond, and pushed forward. As we 

286 Historx of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

approached the city we found other roads leading into ours, with other troops 
hurrying toward the same destination, and a race commenced to see who should 
get there first. Knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, and everything to impede their 
motion were thrown away 

Our brigde — the Second — got at the junction of the roads first, but our right 
of way was only given to those who actually held it in advance, and soon officers 
and men of different commands were more or less intermixed. It was "on to 
Richmond" sure now. Our brigade got into the city first of all infantry troops, 
save only the picket lines. General Weitzel and some cavalry were ahead of us. 

As soon as I got away a little from General Donohoe, I let out my horse and 
left him and his command behind. Clouds of smoke were rising in the city. 
As I went on I could see much of it on fire. Meeting negroes I inquired for 
Libby prison, and being shown the way, I went to it direct. It was empty, 
No Yankee or rebel soldier was there. I went all over it. Soon others came. 
I looked for something to capture as a souvenir, but everything was so filthy I 
feared to touch it. I could find nothing till, walking by the corner nearest the 
basement door, I saw a key lying upon the ground. I picked it up. It was not 
rusty, but bright as if in use. I went back to the door and found the key would 
lock and unlock it readily I said, "This is the key to Libby prison," and 
believing it such, I kept it and have it now I have no doubt about its being the 
one the rebels used. I next pushed on to the capitol building, where I found the 
brigade headquarters and soldiers, many I then went to Jeff. Davis's house. 
These premises were crowded. I saw the table, chairs, demijohn, decanter, 
and glasses as last used by that traitor before he evacuated. A guard was soon 
put on, and all the soldiers, and officers as well, were now called to put out the 
fire. We all responded readily, though some less willingly, and after a hard 
struggle succeeded in stopping the fast devouring flames; and so the Yankee 
army saved from ashes the homes and property of the great city that the rebels 
themselves had tried to destroy. The citizens acknowledged this, and were very 
thankful for it. 

Let this be recorded as a matter of history that the "northern vandals," as 
they had called us, proved more merciful to them than their own soldiers. 

Capt. Hosea Q^ Sargent who, though wearing the same insignia of 
rank as Captain Kelley, was really second in command of the brigade 
picket line by date of commission, and who, as above stated in the 
extract from the city daily, commanded the left wing of that line, in con- 
firmation of the claim of Captain Kelley and the statement of the editor, 
says : 

We arrived in the city of Richmond about S o'clock on the morning of April 
3, thoroughly exhausted, yet our hearts beat high with exultation and triumph. 
I am certain that the part of the picket line of which I was in command was the 
first infantry in the city, and the first troops of any kind, except a squad ot the 
Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, to whom the major and council surrendered 
about thirty minutes before we reached the place. 

Corporal Newell Davidson, of Company G, was one of the fleet-footed 
racers from the Twelfth who were on the picket line on the night of the 

JYew Hampshire Volunteers. 287 

2d, and he is still living at Plymouth, N. H. He was one of the first 
to mount the enemy's works, and as soon as he found that there was a 
better chance for a race than a fight, he stripped himself of everything 
above his feet but his shirt and pants, and being almost as swift as a 
deer, soon outran all the rest, and found himself alone, so far as his 
comrades were concerned, among the citizens of Richmond. 

Learning from other members of his company that he was, as they 
believed, the first man of the picket line to reach the city, he was written 
to by the author, and here is his reply : 

I believe I was the first live man, wearing the blue, to enter Richmond on the 
morning of its capture, but of course I cannot prove it. If I am correct, and 
there are some still living — Sergeant Clarke for one — who will testify in my 
favor, then was the "Old Twelfth" represented there ahead of any other regi- 
ment. I ran all the way to get there ahead of the rest, and I could run some at 
that time. I went up Main street all alone, but citizens, black and w r hite, were 
on the street, with now and then one in rehel uniform, but unarmed so far as I 
saw. I began to wish that some of my comrades were with me, for I did not 
feel quite safe ; but every one seemed to be too busy caring for his own or 
plundering from some one else to take much notice of me. The city was on fire 
in several places, and from this cause, and the expectation that our army was 
coming, the whole population seemed wild with excitement. I got a little boy 
to show me Jeff. Davis's house, and I think I was the first Union soldier to enter 
it. Jeff, himself had skipped, but some of his servants remained. He had 
evidently left in a hurry I then went to the .State Capitol building. There were 
none of our colors flying there then, or anywhere else in Richmond, that I 
remember of seeing, and I should remember it if there had been. Among other 
incidents that come back to my memory is this: 

There was a young girl at the state house square, standing guard over her 
uncle's goods that they were bringing from his house, near the fire. She told me 
that she came from New York to visit her uncle, and the war breaking out she 
could not get back home. She gave me two or three presents for remaining 
with her for a while, for she was much frightened, and no wonder, at the scene 
around her, and feared that some of the lawless ones would steal the goods left 
in her charge. 

Among the things she gave me was a canteen full of " applejack. " She told 
me not to take any from the old rebel residents as they might put poison in it. 

She said that most of the citizens were very bitter against the northern soldiers, 
but there were many who in their hearts would welcome us into the city. 

She was young and handsome, and looked up so wishfully, when she saw 
that I was a Union soldier, that I could not help speaking to her. She said that 
I was the first blue-clad soldier she had seen that morning. 

When I left, after some of her folks had joined her, she gave me a box of fine 
combs, a pack of cards, and a gold ring. The ring I wore until I broke it a few 
years ago. I only wish I knew her name and address, if living, for I could then 
prove what I have written about my being the first Union soldier she had seen. 

I was in Richmond a long time, as it seemed to me, before I saw a soldier 
wearing the same uniform as myself, but I should have been glad to have met 

2SS History of the Twelfth Regiment 

such, for I confess I felt a little skittish. But I know of course that it could not 
have been much more than half an hour before the rest of mv picket line reached 
the city, for they came on the '• double-quick" most or all of the way 

Now, in conclusion, I want to tell you what I know, that the pickets of our 
brigade — the Second — were the first to enter the rebel capital, any claim or 
talk to the contrary notwithstanding. There are many others beside imself who 
still live to back me up in this statement, and if there were not, there would be 
no doubt about it in my own mind, for I was there in season to see for myself, and 
" know whereof 1 affirm" 

In addition to what has already been written about the capture and 
occupation of Richmond by the Union forces, the account given bv 
Thomas Thatcher Graves, then aide to General Weitzel, and previously 
referred to in this chapter, is in part quoted here, as better worth the time 
and attention of the readers than any effort of the author, concerning the 
interesting subjects of which he writes. 

After referring to the position and extent of the line held bv the ,Vrmy 
of the James in the spring of 1865, and its earl}- start-for Richmond on 
the morning of April 3, he continues : 

As we approached the line of defenses we saw in the distance divisions of our 
troops, many of them upon the " double-quick," aiming to be the first in the eitv ; 
a white and a colored division were having a regular race, the white troops 
on the turnpike, and the colored in the fields. As we neared the citv the 
fires seemed to increase in number and size, and at intervals loud explosions 
were heard. On entering we found Capitol Square covered with people w 
had fled there to escape the fire, and who were utterly worn out with fatigue and 
fright. Details were at once made to scour the city and press into the service every 
able-bodied man, white or black, and make them assist in extinguishing the flames. 
General Deven's division marched into the city, stacked aims and went to work. 
Parson's engineer company assisted by blowing up houses to check the advance 
of the flames, as about every engine was destroyed, or rendered useless by the 
mob. In this manner the fire was extinguished, and perfect order restored in an 
incredibly short time after we occupied the city. 

There was absolutely no plundering upon the part of our soldiers. Orders 
were issued forbidding anything to be taken without remuneration, and no com- 
plaints were made of any infringement of these orders. 

Gen. G. F Sheplev was placed on duty as military governor. lie had 
occupied a similar position in New Orleans, after its capture in 1S62, and was 
eminently fitted for it by education and experience. 

As we entered the suburbs the General ordered me to take half a dozen 
cavalrymen and go to Lihbv prison, for our thoughts were upon the wretched 
men whom we supposed were still confined within its walls. It was very early 
in the morning, and we were the first Union troops to arrive before Libby Not 
a guard, not an inmate remained; the doors were wide open, and only a few 
negroes greeted us with, " Dev 's all done gone, marsa ! " 

The next (lav after our entry into the city, on passing out from Clay street, from 
Jefferson Davis's house, I saw a crowd coming along, headed by President 


J\V:£' Hampshire Volunteers. 289 

Lincoln, who was walking with his usual long careless stride, looking about 
with an interested air and taking in everything. Upon mv saluting, he said : 
•■ Is it far to President Davis s house? " I accompanied him to the house which 
was occupied by General Weitzel as his headquarters. The President had 
arrived at about 9 o'clock at the landing called " Rocketts " upon Admiral 
Porter's flagship, the "Malvern," and as soon as the boat was made fast, without 
ceremony, he walked ashore and started off up town. As soon as Admiral 
Porter was informed of it. he ordered a guard of marines to follow as escort ; but 
in the walk of about two miles they never saw him, and he was directed bv 

At the Davis house he was shown into the reception room, with the remark that 
the housekeeper had said that that room was President Davis's office. As he 
seated himself he said: ••This must have been President Davis's chair," and, 
crossing his legs, he looked tar off with a serious, dreamv expression. At 
length he asked me if the housekeeper was in the house. Upon learning that 
she had left, he jumped up and said in a bovish manner: •' Come, let us look at 
the house." We went pretty much all over it. I retailed all that the house- 
keeper had told me, and he seemed interested in evervthing. As we came down 
the staircase. General Weitzel came in breathless haste, and at once President 
Lincoln's face lost its boyish expression, as he recalled that duty must be 
resumed. Soon afterwards Judge Campbell, General Anderson (Confederates), 
and others called and asked for an interview with the President. It was granted, 
and took place in the parlor, with closed doors. I accompanied President 
Lincoln and General Weitzel to Libby prison and Castle Thunder, and heard 
General Weitzel ask the President what he (General Weitzel) should do in 
regard to the conquered people. President Lincoln replied that he did not wish 
to give any orders on that subject, but, as he expressed it, " If I were in your 
place I'd let 'em up easy, let 'em up easy." 

A few days after our entry General Lee surrendered, and earl)' one morning 
we learned that he had just arrived at his house in the city. General Weitzel 
called me into a private room, and taking out a large, well filled pocket-book, 
said: "Go to General Lee's house, find Fitzhugh Lee and sav to him that his 
old West Point chum, Godfrey Weitzel, wishes to know if he needs any- 
thing, and urges him to take what he may need from that pocket-book." Upon 
reaching General Lee's house I knocked, and Gen. Fitzhugh Lee came to the 
door. He was dressed in a Confederate uniform. Upon my introducing my- 
self, he asked me in, showing me into a parlor with double or folding doors, 
explaining that the servants had not vet returned. He was so overcome by 
Weitzel's message that for a moment he was obliged to walk to the other end of 
the room. He excused himself, and passed into an inner room, where I noticed 
Gen. Robert E. Lee sitting with a tired, worn expression upon his face. 
Fitzhugh Lee knelt beside his General, as he sat leaning over, and placed a hand 
upon his knee. After a few moments he came back, and in a most dignified 
and courteous manner sent his love to General Weitzel, and assured him that he 
did not require any loan of money, but, if it would be entirely proper for General 
Weitzel to issue a pass for some ladies of General Lee's household to return to 
the city, it would be esteemed a favor; but he impressed me to state, that if this 
would embarrass his friend in any way. on no account would they request the 


290 History of the Tzvelfth Regiment 

favor. It is needless to state that the ladies were back in the house as soon as 

As bearing close relation to the last part of the foregoing, a foot-note 
thereto will be given : 

As one of our aides was riding through the streets, engaged in gathering to- 
gether the able-bodied men to assist in extinguishing the fire, he was hailed by a 
servant in front of a house towards which the fire seemed to be moving. The 
servant told him that his mistress wished to speak with him. He dismounted 
and entered the house, and was met by a lady who stated that her mother was an 
invalid, confined to her bed, and as the fire seemed to be approaching, she asked 
for assistance. Subsequent conversation developed the fact that the invalid was 
no other than the wife of Gen. R. E. Lee, and the lady who addressed the aide, 
was her daughter. Miss Lee. An ambulance was furnished by Col. E. H. 
Ripley, of the Ninth Vermont, and a corporal and two men guarded them until 
all danger was over. 

Richmond, when captured, was a starving city, and one of the first 
things that demanded the attention of the military authority, after ex- 
tinguishing the flames and restoring order, was the feeding of the citi- 
zens, rich and poor, white and black. A hungry stomach is a powerful 
pleader, and will have its urgent demand satisfied, regardless of pride, 
hatred, anger, or prejudice. And hence some of the richest and 
proudest of that aristocratic centre of southern chivalry were obliged to 
beg of those whom they most strongly despised and bitterly hated, or 

It was to them a most distressing alternative, and the choice thev were 
obliged to make humiliating indeed. For women, dressed in silks and 
wearing costly jewelry, to be obliged to welcome to their homes Union 
officers, whom at heart they really detested, that they might procure 
through them meat and flour enough for the servants to cook to feed both 
themselves and their hated Yankee boarders, was a strange but not un- 
common thing. 

Several officers of the Twelfth found board and lodging in just such 
families, but dreamed not of their destitution until made known to them 
by painful necessity. All the male members of such families, able to 
carry a sword or a gun, were of course in the rebel army, and the fear 
of being molested, as they claimed, bv our soldiers — they really had 
much more fear of their own former slaves and plundering citizens — 
was another reason for tolerating the poluting presence of our officers. 

But many of these southern born and bred ladies soon found that not 
all of the Yankees were thieves and villians, but that some of them, at 
least, were as kind as they were keen, and not entirely void of good 
manners. Many individual illustrations of this might here be given, and 
as many Richmond ladies, if living, would willingly testify thereto. 

So deeply bitter was the hatred of some of these boarding mistresses 
toward the northern soldiers that fears were entertained and expressed 

jYew Hampshire Volunteers. 291 

that they might poison them, but no such a suspicion was ever realized, 
and it is but giving such charity as we would receive to say, that if such 
a thing was ever seriously thought of, something more Christian-like than 
fear prompted a restraining influence. 

One of the chief objects of interest to the northern soldier, to be found 
in Richmond, was Libbv prison. As understood by the writer, its doors 
were first opened bv the company of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, 
who have the honor of being the first Federal troops to enter the city. 

If it was a day of joy and gladness to the deliverers, how much more so 
it must have been to the delivered. From filth, starvation, torture, and 
death to step, all unexpectedly, into the pure, free air of unrestricted 
freedom, and that, too, by the final success of the great cause for which, on 
the field and in prison, they had so long fought and suffered, was such a 
glorv of gladness as seldom fills the heart of suffering humanity It 
must have come to them like an angel's visit in a heavenly vision. 

Quite an excavation was found under the building, which led some to 
believe that the report of its being mined, and all ready to blow up at one 
time during the war, when the rescue of its inmates was strongly 
threatened by Sheridan's cavalry, was probably true. 

But however it may have been as a matter of fact, there is no denying 
that the cruel and inhuman treatment of our soldiers in this and other 
southern prisons fully justified one in believing the report. 

But while we execrate the Confederate authorities for their barbarous 
and heartless treatment of the unfortunate inmates of Libby, Raleigh, 
Salisbury, and Andersonville. let it not be forgotten that our own govern- 
ment, acting under the wish and advice of General Grant, who strongly 
disfavored an exchange of prisoners, is far from being blameless. 

Truth, plain and unvarnished, here leaves a record of history that 
every manly-hearted American must read in sorrow and in shame ; for 
he who suffers wrong, having both the privilege and the power to avoid 
the same, is nearly, if not quite, as guilty as he who perpetrates it. 

Prompted more, as it seems, by measures of policy than feelings of 
humanity, the Confederate government made strong and persistent efforts 
during the last of the war to effect an exchange of prisoners ; and the 
Federal authorities, only too well knowing the terrible suffering of their 
own soldiers confined in the death-pens of the South, acting upon the 
same principle, or rather want of principle, as the rebels, refused with 
equal persistency to consent to any exchange. 

The South wanted just what the exchange would have given them — 
more of their own men to fight and less of ours to feed ; while the North, 
looking at it as a bad trade, was content with just the reverse. 

As a last appeal, a delegation from the prisoners at Andersonville was 
sent to plead their cause before the authorities at Washington. But this 
even proved of no avail. 

It is said that President Lincoln refused to see them, but it is much 

292 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

more probable that they were not allowed the privilege of seeing him by 
those of authority who stood between ; for he was not the man to close 
his ears to the cries of mercy and pity, especially when heard from those 
waiting at his own threshold. 

Grant and Stanton by their obstinate refusal to make or allow any ex- 
change of prisoners assumed " a fearful responsibility for the many 
thousands of lives thus sacrificed by the most cruel forms of death from 
cold, starvation, and pestilence in the prison pens of Raleigh and Ander- 
sonville, being more than all the British soldiers killed in the wars of 
Napoleon." * 

They may have been honestly patriotic in taking the course they did, 
but a short personal experience in Andersonville would soon have re- 
vealed things to them in a far different light. 

Though the doors of Libby prison swung quickly open for the egress 
of its inmates then and there confined, they were very soon closed again, 
but upon men who wore the gray instead of the blue. 

And some who had jeered, insulted, and threatened the Union soldiers 
imprisoned there, had their tables so completely overturned as to find 
themselves in the same brick box. And one day, after this sudden ex- 
change, while some of the Twelfth boys were on duty near by, there 
came along a member of another regiment, who, as he said, had lost a 
brother from starvation within its walls. No one who heard ever could 
forget the mad torrent of accusation and malediction that he poured upon 
those now obliged to listen behind the same grates that had confined his 
brother. The longer he talked the madder he grew, until his threats of 
vengeance he apparently intended to, and doubtlessly would, have exe- 
cuted with the musket that he had with him, as some thought, for that 
very purpose, had not others interfered and succeeded at last in persuad- 
ing him to desist and go awav 

Veterans of the Twelfth will also remember the large bloodhound, 
" Nero," that had been kept at the prison, and that was too brave to 
imitate the example of many of the citizens and run away at the approach 
of the Yankees. 

« This dog is supposed to be the same that confronted Thompson and 
Bacheler on the night of their escape as related in a subsequent chapter. 

After the war he was taken north and exhibited in some of our large 

Reference to this reminds the writer of another dog, but of Union pro- 
clivities, that belonging to or staying with one of the regiments of the 
Second Brigade, was on the picket line the morning of the capture of 
Richmond, and was blown to pieces by a torpedo when going over the 
enemy's works. He did not know the meaning of the little red flags, or 
strips of red cloth, that had been stuck up by those who planted the tor- 
pedoes for their own safety, and forgot in their hasty retreat to pull them 
down : nor did he any better understand the warning words of his human 

* (iciii'i-fil Butler's report Before the ('niitfressionnl (.'oinmittee 

^'("j 1 Hampshire ] T olun(cers. 293 

companions as thev shouted to each other: Look out for the torpedoes 
there ' Be careful hou you step, and keep azvav from the little red fags! 

The same torpedo whose explosion killed the dog is said to have 
wounded a man in the Fifth Maryland Regiment, and that was all the 
damage done by the many torpedoes around and between which the men 
quickly and safely picked their way on their first trip to Richmond. 

As soon as the excitement and enthusiasm of taking the rebel citadel 
had subsided a little, the soldiers became greatly interested in what Grant 
and his corps commanders were doing to cut off Lee's retreat. There 
were fears that what was left of the rebel " Army of Northern Virginia," 
would elude the pursuit of our forces, and, escaping into some mountain 
region of the south, might be able with the assistance of Johnson's army, 
to prolong the war into a full realization of what was Lee's only hope and 
Grant's only fear 

And so, when on the evening of the 9th the joylul news came to the 
troops in Richmond that Lee's whole army were prisoners of war, and 
that " Unconditional Surrender" Grant was boss of not only the situation, 
but the whole rebel crew who had stacked arms for the last time at Ap- 
pomattox, all were wild with delight. They knew that the surrender of 
Lee was the end of the Rebellion, and that they would soon be allowed 
to go home, for their work was accomplished. 

Of course the great loyal heart of the North leaped with joy at the 
bright cheering prospect of peace, and even the small minority of the 
people in the northern states who sympathized with the rebels, and had been 
known as * ' copperheads," were not ashamed, as they should have been, 
to make pretentions of gladness. 

But most joyful of all were the mothers, wives, and sisters of the vet- 
eran heroes who still lived, and for whose speedy and safe return they 
now had so much reason to confidently hope. 

To such it was like the sun, long obscured by the destructive and 
threatening storm, bursting into its full effulgence from a clear sky to 
gladden the heart of the tempest-tossed mariner ; but for those whose dear 
ones were sleeping in soldiers' graves, and those perhaps unmarked and 
unknown, it was like the moon's pale beams struggling through the 
broken fragments of the black cloud whose lightnings had struck down 
their dearest ones of earth. 

Victory at last, and the flag of our fathers triumphant over Secession 
and Rebellion, but at what a frightful cost ! Thousands of millions of 
that which may be estimated upon the Governmental ledger, and hundreds 
of thousands of lives, priceless and inestimable ' 

Four years of such carnage and sacrifice can nowhere else be found 
on the calendar of time, and yet nearly nineteen hundred years have 
rolled away since the " Lamb of Love and Peace" was slain as an atone- 
ment for the sins of the world, and America the most enlightened and 
christianized nation on the face of the earth. Oh ! what a picture for the 
Christian philosopher to look upon is this ! 


Manchester and Danville. 

The rt-giment remained in Richmond, doing provost and guard duty, 
until the 14th, when it moved across the river into Manchester, a smaller 
city on the southern side of the James, which separates it from Richmond. 
And as the men, save those on guard, slept soundly in their new encamp- 
ment in the suburbs, who among them dreamed of the terrible tragedy 
being enacted in Washington? And who of them, and all the soldiers 
who had neither seen, hoped for, nor expected anything after Lee's sur- 
render, but peace and safety for the nation, awoke the next morning to a 
consciousness of the sad and solemn fact that President Lincoln was dead, 
or was just breathing his last? Yet, before 8 o'clock, the lightning had 
flashed the awe-inspiring news to the four corners of the globe, and all 
Christendom soon knelt in tearful apprehension at the altar of praver 

President Lincoln dead ! And by the hand of an assassin ! ' No won- 
der the civilized world stood aghast : that Christian Freedom in tearful 
silence wept ; nor that Libertv sat pale and trembling on her mountain 
throne ! 

Just as the Nation breathed and smiled in its new birth, he, who had 
been chief to encourage, support, and protect, and without whose strong, 
yet gentle hand, the old had perished before the new was brought forth, 
was struck down by the revengeful dagger of the same power that had so 
long sought, and so nearly destroyed, the life of the Nation itself. It is 
not strange, therefore, that fearful foreboding for a time filled the public 

General Meade received the astounding intelligence from General 
Grant, then in Washington, early on the morning of the 15th : but so 
fearful were both of its effect upon the army, that it was given out by 
piecemeal, and the whole truth was not known, even to some of the staff 
officers, until two or three days afterward. Captain Prescott, then aide- 
de-camp to General Weitzel, in referring to this, says : 

If that army had been told the whole story at once, not a stone in all Virginia 
would have been left unturned. So the powers judged wisely that kept the news 
back; but it was humiliating to the soldiers to think that they had been deceived 
from fear of their commanders that they could not be trusted. 

But though a Moses had fallen, and like his great prototype within 
sight of the promised greatness of his people, there were manv Joshuas 

*Yew Ham-pshire Volunteers. 295 

left : for God in his wisdom had decreed what Lincoln himself, standing 
amid the graves of patriot heroes upon Gettysburg heights, had asked his 
countrymen to highly resolve, "That this nation of the people, by the 
people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." 

And true it was, as spoken at the time, by one of those Joshuas whose 
similar death, a few years later, caused the whole land to be again draped 
in mourning, •' God reigns, and the Government at Washington still 
lives'" For the Nation, though long bleeding from almost every vein, 
was still strong enough to survive the loss of still more of its vital fluid, 
though it came from the sinking heart of her greatest benefactor; for he 
had already led her through the crisis of her peril, and nobly earned the 
exalted title that posterity will freely accord to him, — the Savior of his 
Country Abraham Lincoln, — 

•' One of the few, the immortal names, 
That were not born to die," 

and highest among them all, save only Washington, on Freedom's monu- 
mental adamant of imperishable fame — how weak the power of words to 
do justice to thy memory ! Even should the light of the nineteenth cen- 
tury be put out, and the world relapse again into barbarism, yet, from out 
the dark night of the ages, thy dimless star would shine as a bright cyno- 
sure to all those who might still hope for the final emancipation and re- 
demption of mankind. 

It may not be known, even to some of the surviving members of the 
regiment, that one of their number was present at Ford's theatre on the 
night of the assassination of President Lincoln, and was the first man to 
reach, and the second one to enter, the President's box, after the fatal 
shot was fired. Yet such seems to be the fact, and the full particulars, as 
received by the writer from the lips of Captain Bedee himself — for he is 
the one referred to — are substantially as the reader will find them here 

Major Bedee, then captain, was at that time in Washington on special 
leave, and was one of the many hundreds who attended the theatre, as 
above stated, on that woeful night of April 14, 1865. He had procured 
a seat in the second row on the left, back of the orchestra, where he had 
a full view of the President's box and its occupants ; and, hearing the re- 
port of a pistol, his quick eye caught sight of Booth, as he leaped from 
the box upon the stage. In an instant the terrible truth flashed through 
his mind. His first impulse was to make a rush for the stage, as soon as 
the murderer struck it. But, waiting until the tragic words and action 
there confirmed his suspicions, he jumped from his chair over the row of 
seats in front of him, and with a rush and a bound was past the orchestra 
and over the footlights, before the assassin had hardly disappeared behind 
the scenes. 

Following him across the stage and to the rear of the same until he heard 

296 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

some one beyond cry out. "They ve got him '" (which he has always be- 
lieyed was done by some one of the actors or an accomplice to stop pursuit) 
he immediately returned to the front of the stage beneath the President's 
box, — Mrs. Lincoln then screaming, •' A/v husband is shot '" and others 
calling for a doctor — and was just mounting the railing of the stage box 
to climb into the President's aboye, when a person claiming to be a physi- 
cian rushed up, and, with the assistance of Captain Bedee and two or 
three others who had followed him up. was lifted into the box. closely 
followed by Bedee who, but for stopping midway to assist the doctor, 
would have been the first man from the outside to enter the President's 
box, the door at the rear, leading to the dress circle through which Booth 
had entered, being locked by him, as supposed, before he leaped upon 
the stage, as the key was found afterward upon the floor 

There were no others who entered by climbing up in front, but soon the 
door to the box was broken in and several others entered, and among 
them another physician. 

When Captain Bedee and the physician entered the box, the President 
was reclining in his chair, with his head far back, much as it he were 
asleep. The doctor immediately commenced searching for the wound, 
stripping back the President's coat and unbuttoning his vest for that pur- 
pose. Nothing could be seen of any blood or any place where the bullet 
had entered the head or body While the doctor was thus searching 
vainly for the wound, Captain Bedee. who was at the same time support- 
ing the President's head, felt something warm trickling into his hand, and 
quickly guessing the cause, exclaimed: " Here is the wound, doctor,'" at 
the same instant that he put one of his Angers into the hole in the back 
part of the head where the ball had entered, and from which the precious 
blood of the great martyr had just commenced to ooze out. 

In pulling back the President's coat to find where he was hit, some 
papers fell from one of the pockets, and Mrs. Lincoln, who. under the 
circumstances, was remarkably calm and self-possessed, seeing the papers 
fall upon the floor, picked them up and handed them, with others about 
to fall from the same pocket, to Captain Bedee. saying to him as she did 
so. "You are an officer, and won't you take charge of these papers r" 

The captain took the papers as requested, putting them carefully into 
his own pocket. 

He next assisted in removing the unconscious President from the the- 
ater and conveying him across the street into the house, where he died 
at 7.20 the next morning. 

Captain Bedee remained in the room with the dying great and good man, 
while Vice-President Johnson, Secretaries Stanton and Chase. .Senator 
Sumner, and several others arrived, and until between 2 and 3 o'clock in 
the morning. He then, at the request of Stanton, went to the War De- 
partment to carry some message for the secretary, and thence with orders 
to the officer in command at Chain Bridge in relation to preventing the 
escape of the assassin into Virginia. 

A 'ezv Hampshire I "olunteers. 297 

Having executed his orders and reported back to Stanton, to whom he 
had delivered up the papers given him by Mrs. Lincoln before starting, 
he received from the secretarv thanks for all he had done and was told 
that he could then report to his place or post of duty 

The next night found Captain Bedee with his regiment in Manchester, 
Va. But hardlv had he so far recovered himself as to think calmlv upon 
the tragic scene in which he had taken so prominent a part, before the 
provost marshal received an order from Washington for his arrest. 

When that officer showed his order to Bedee, there was such a forcible 
and temper-toned expression of indignation from the captain for the 
bungling attempt to connect him. as he then thought, in some way with 
the crime of murdering the President, that the officer began to strongly 
suspect that someone at Washington was more guiltv of a big blunder than 
his prisoner was of any crime, and so telegraphed to General Hardie who 
had sent the order of arrest. 

In a short time came a telegram for his release. But this did not sat- 
isfy Captain Bedee. who wanted, as he had a right to, such an explana- 
tion as would entirely exonerate him from all blame and remove from 
the minds of his comrades every suspicion that the order for his arrest 
had thrown upon him. 

The following correspondence will tell the rest of the story : 

Head Quarters zd Brig., 3 Div., 24 A. C 

In the Field, Va., April 26, 1865. 
Sir, — I have the honor to report that on the evening of the iSth an order 
from Washington was received hv telegraph at Gen'l Ord's head quarters for 
the arrest of Capt. Bedee. 12th X H.. to the effect that Capt. Bedee had failed to 
deliver the President's papers, saving : " He will be arrested, the papers taken 
from him, sealed and forwarded to Washington." 

By Order of 

Secretary of War, 
(Signed) James A. Hardie, 

//;•/. />V/»". General, etc 

In compliance with the above I was arrested and remained under arrest until 
the evening of the 20th. 

When arrested and taken before Gen. Devens on the morning of the 19th, I 
stated to him that I delivered the papers of the late President to your Honor on 
the morning of the President's death, April 15th, at the house opposite Ford's 
Theatre, where the President was then lying, which you will probably remember 
as vour Honor at the time of mv delivering said papers noted my name, regiment, 
and corps upon the wrapper which you placed around said papers. 

On the evening of the 20th the following telegram was received at General 
Patrick's head quarters : 

U. S. Military Telegraph, 

April 20th, 1865. 
By telegraph from Washington to Gen. Patrick : 

I have seen the Secretary who now says that Capt. Ik-dee did give him cer- 

2gS History of the Twelfth Regiment 

tain papers. Major Hav was not aware that the papers were so disposed of bv 
Capt. Bedee. 

Please release the Captain from arrest. 

(Signed) James A. Hardie, 

Bvt. Brig. General, etc. 

Doubting that your Hoi'i approve, of the public disgrace of an officer who 
ha? endeavoured for the past three years to earn an honorable name in the defense 
of his countrv, I take the libertv of laving: this case before vou, hoping vour 
Honor's sense of justice will induce you to set the matter right with the command 
with which I am connected. I am Sir. 

Verv Respectfully 

Your Obedient Servant, 

E. E. Bedee. 
Capt 1 2th X H. Vs and 
A. D C 2d Brig.. 3d Div.. 24 A. C. 
To The Hon. E. M. Stanton. 

Secretary of War. Washington. D. L. 

War Department 
Washington City. May 5. 1S65. 
Captain. — On the iSth of April last, word came to me from Maj. John Hav 
Assistant Private Secretarv to the late President, that certain papers taken from 
the person of Mr. Lincoln on the night of his assassination, which had on that 
occasion come into vour possession, had not been delivered bv vou as promised; 
and. further, that vou could not be found in this city, and that upon inquiry it 
was learned that vou had left town for the army I then telegraphed, believing 
the matter required immediate action, to General Patrick, in the name of the 
Secretarv of War. an order for vour arrest, and that the papers in question 
should be taken from vou. sealed up, and forwarded to Washington. Upon this 
order vou were arrested. Ascertaining subsequently that vou had delivered the 
papers to the Secretary A War upon the same night on which vou became 
possessed of them. I telegraphed an order for vour release, and vou were 

In view of vour entirely honorable conduct with regard to the papers in 
question, and of the mortifying position in which vou were placed by the accu- 
sation and the arrest. I desire to express my serious regret at my action; and 
cheerfully make vou the reparation of a full and free acknowledgement of my 
mistake, which is conceded in the light of mv present knowledge of the circum- 
stances of the case to have been an act of serious though unintentional injustice 
to vour>elf. 

In conclusion I beg that vou will please make such use of this letter as may in 
vour opinion be necessary to repair as far as possible the evil occasioned by mv 
action of the iSth "f April. I remain, captain. 

Very respectfully. 

Your obedient servant. 

Jas. A. Hardie. 
Bvt Brig. Gen/, and Inspector Gen/.. L" -b. A. 

J\Yt£' Hampshire Volunteers. 299 

Washington, D. C, Mav 5, 9.20 p. m. 
Capt E. E. Bedeh, 12th X H. Vols., 2d Brig., jd Div.. 24 Army Corps, 
Care of Jfaj. Gen. Dcvo/s 

Your note of April 26 has just reached me, and I hasten to reply by telegraph. 
The order for vour arrest issued by General Hardie was without niv knowledge 
or authority and was unjust to you. The papers found on the person of the late 
President were delivered bv you to me on the morning of his death and immedi- 
ately sealed up, vour name and address endorsed thereon, and placed by my 
clerk in the safe of the War Department where they remained until delivered to 
Tudge Davis and opened in his presence. 

When informed bv (ieneral Hardie that he had issued an order for your arrest, 
I immediately directed the order to be revoked, and an acknowledgement made 
of the injustice done you. Your conduct in the matter was in every respect 
becoming your rank and personal character, and I deeply regret that the hasty 
and unauthorized act of General Hardie should have subjected you to a moment's 
pain or reproach. If he had informed me before using my name, the error 
could not have happened. You are at liberty to use this explanation in any way 
you may deem useful to yourself. 

(ieneral Hardie has been directed to make a proper acknowledgement to you, 
which he will no doubt take pleasure in doing, in order to relieve vou as far as 
possible from the pain vou have innocently suffered. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 

Secretary of M dr. 

Thus was Major Bedee completely exonerated from all blame and 
suspicion which the arrest alone and unexplained might have rested upon 
him : and the very fact of General Hardie's unauthorized action was 
indirectly the means of establishing, by as high authority as Secretary 
Stanton himself, the truth, in the main, of Major Bedee's whole story, 
which otherwise might and probably would have been questioned by 
some who do not always judge others as they would like to be judged 

It seems, from information furnished by Colonel Bachelder, historian 
of the battle of Gettysburg, that the names of the two physicians 
referred to by Major Bedee were Charles A. Leale and Charles S. Taft, 
both assistant surgeons of I'nited States Volunteers, and that the latter 
claims to have been the one that was lifted into the box from the stage. 

His statement, however, does not agree in some particulars with 
Major Bedee s. the doctor saving that when he entered the box " the 
President was lying upon the floor stripped to his shirt," while Bedee in 
reply thereto avers that '* Lincoln was not on the floor at all ; neither was 
his coat off", but only thrown back." There is also a difference in their 
statements in regard to the time that Doctor Leale entered the box from 
the dress circle. 

But that both of these statements were made over twenty-three years 
after the occurrence to which they relate, goes far toward reconciling 
the discrepancy between them, with an honest intention of both. 

300 History of the Tzvclfth Regiment 

The regiment while in Manchester had little but police and provost duty 
to do : and, encamped most of the time in a pleasant grove, between two and 
three miles from the business centre of the citv. there was very little to 
complain of and much to be thankful for 

Rations and water being good and plenty, with enough spare time to 
rest and care for themselves, the sick and weak grew better and stronger: 
but more than all else to give to their cheeks the ruddv glow of health 
was the soul-cheering and life-inspiring thought that the war was over, 
and that they would soon be at home. 

There is no medicine like a cheerful heart, and as Addison savs : 
" Health and cheerfulness mutually beget each other 

April the 19th Colonel Marsh came down from Washington, where he 
had been on detached duty ever since, recovering from his wound re- 
ceived at Chancellorsville, and made a visit to the regiment. He found 
a few more of the boys to greet him than when he last saw the regiment 
in that citv on its return from the Gettysburg campaign, and in as much 
better spirits as they were condition, although thev were then feeling 
much better than they looked, for they had just been released from the 
Army of the Potomac. 

On the 25th the regiment, with its division, marched into Richmond to 
receive the First and Second divisions of the Twenty-fourth Corps on their 
return from the extreme left where they had marched and fought night 
and day in helping to capture Lee's army ; while the Third Division, to 
which the Twelfth belonged, was left behind to capture Richmond. 

May 6 the regiment again crossed the river into the capital city to 
receive the Second and Fifth Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac ; 
and on the nth the trip was repeated to exchange cheers and congratula- 
tions with the Fourteenth and Twentieth corps of Sherman's army on 
their way to Washington. And for several days there was almost a con- 
stant tramp of different corps of both armies into and through Manchester 
and Richmond, all returning from fields of conquest and victory Sher- 
man's army had " beat the bush," while Grant's had • • bagged the game." 

On the 19th day of May, by orders from General Ord, then com- 
manding the Department of Virginia, the Twelfth Regiment proceeded 
by rail from Manchester to Danville, Va., a distance of nearly 150 miles. 
It arrived at Danville late in the evening, and the men remained in the 
cars until the next morning when temporary quarters were found in an 
old tobacco building near the depot. 

The same day Colonel Barker issued the following orders : 

IIkadc^uakters V S. Fokcks. 

/. ,, x Va., Mav 20, iS(k. 

Cjkxekai. Order ao. i - 

In obedience to instructions from Headquarters, Department of Virginia, the 
undersigned hereby assumes command of Danville, Va.. and vicinity. 

It is expected that the inhabitants will render their willing and cheerful sup- 

A'ezr Hampshire Volunteers.. 301 

port to preserve order. Any act of violence on the part of any person will be 
promptly punished. Officers and enlisted men of this command will be careful 
to avoid all unnecessary interference with the inhabitants. 

Private property will be protected ; and it is hoped that the men who have 
exhibited so much bravery on the field will readily recognize the necessity of pro- 
tecting the private rights of peaceful citizens; and that in the discharge of all 

their duties they will be firm and courteous. 

Ihomas -L. Barker, 

Lieut. Cot- 12th V H. To/.w, Commanding. 

Here Colonel Barker, with his brave and trusted few (for the recruits 
still remaining in the regiment had proved themselves worth)' of confi- 
dence), showed that they could wisely rule, as well as bravely fight. 
Drill, trench, and picket duties were now no longer required, and the 
rigid rules of war were so far relaxed that the men felt almost like 
citizens again. 

The officers selected by Colonel Barker for his staff, and their official 
positions will be found in the following roster : 

Roster of Staff Officers at Headquarters V S. Forces, Danville, Va., 
under the command of Lieut. Col. Thomas E. Barker, Twelfth New 
Hampshire Vols. 

Capt. E. W Ricker, Act. Asst. Adjt. General. 

Lieut. A. W Jewett, Act. Asst. Quartermaster 

Lieut. G E. Worthen, Act. Post Commissary 

Asst. Surgeon S. C. Carbee, Act. Post Surgeon. 

Maj. Natt. Shackford, Act. Provost Marhsal. 

Capt. D. W Bohonon, Asst. Provost Marshal. 

Capt. E. W Ricker, Asst. Provost Marshal. 

Capt. A. St. Clair Smith, Asst. Provost Marshal. 

In the absence of Captain Ricker, when acting as assistant provost 
marshal in Patrick county, Adjt. R. E. Gale, took his place as acting 
assistant adjutant-general. 

Danville was at this time a city in southern Virginia of between three 
and four thousand inhabitants, and was before the war an important busi- 
ness centre on the Richmond & Danville Railroad, running through 
Petersburg, Danville, Weldon, and Goldsborough, to Wilmington, N C. 
It is situated on the Dan river, and near the head of navigation. 

It was here, as will be remembered, that Davis and his cabinet made 
their first step to re-establish the headquarters of the dying Confederacy 
after being driven out of Richmond ; and it was from this place that the 
fugitive chief, — as he might then have been properly called, as a few 
days later he actually was, — still defiant and determined, issued his last 

In the light of coming events, already so near as to plainly show his 
perilous situation, it was an appeal so vainly bold and confident in its tone 
as to excite more ridicule than enthusiasm, even among his own people. 

302 Hist or x of the Twelfth Regiment 

It created no little amusement at the North where a few davs later it 
was published, while its author was hastening " to leave his country for 
his country's good,' - and his boasted Confederacy had lost both the Con- 
and the fed, and the erae-'mg process of General Grant had left nothing 
but the sad tail-ending r ! 

As an interesting literary relic of the war, and as illustrating the resolute 
tenacity of the ex-rebel chief when all was lost to him and his Confed- 
eracy but a forlorn hope, we here give a portion of his final and fruitless 
appeal : 

We have now entered upon a new phase of the struggle. Relieved from the 
necessity of guarding particular points, our army will be free to move from point 
to point, and to strike the enemy in detail far from his base. 

Let us but will it, and we are free. Animated by that confidence in your 
spirit and fortitude which never vet failed me, I announce to vou, fellow country- 
men, that it is my purpose to maintain your cause with my whole heart and soul ; 
and I will never consent to abandon to the enemy one foot of the soil of any of 
the states of the Confederacy ; that Virginia — noble state, whose ancient renown 
has been eclipsed by her still more glorious recent history, whose bosom has 
been bared to receive the main shock of the war, whose sons and daughters 
have exhibited heroism so sublime as to render her illustrious in all time to come 
— that Virginia with the help of the people and by the blessing of Providence, 
shall be held and defended, and no peace ever be made with the infamous in- 
vaders of our territory 

If, by the stress of numbers, we should be compelled to a temporary with- 
drawal from her limits, or those of any other border state, we will return until 
the baffled and exhausted enemy shall abandon in despair His endless and impos- 
sible task of making slaves of a people resolved to be free. 

Let us then not despond, my countrymen, but, relying on God, meet the foe 
with fresh defiance, and with unconquered and unconquerable hearts., 

On the 24th of May Brig. Gen. J J Gregg was, by order of General 
Ord, assigned to that section of Virginia which included the counties of 
Nelson, Amherst, Bedford, Campbell, Appomattox, Pittsylvania, Henry, 
Patrick, and Franklin, which together were to constitute the District ol 
Lynchburg ; and on the same da}' Colonel Barker received by telegraph 
the following order from General Ord in Richmond : 

You will render the citizens of Halifax and Pittsylvania counties all the facili- 
ties in your power. .Send an officer from command to administer to them the 
oath of allegiance. Report direct to Brigadier-General Gre.L^ for orders, and 
also -sour action in this case. 

In compliance with the order and others in relation to the same subject. 
Captains E. W Ricker, A. St. Clair, and L). \V Bohonon were 
appointed assistant provost marshals, and sent with a small detachment 
of men to the county seats of Patrick, Pittsylvania, and Henry counties. 
Lieut. A. W Bacheler was for a time in control of matters in Fairfax 

^.Yrzc Hampshire Volunteers. 303 

To show what, besides administering oaths of allegiance and protect- 
ing the citizens from molestation by lawless mobs and predatory bands, 
these officers had to do and provide for, one of many orders issued either 
from General Ord or General Gregg appears below : 

By Telegraph from Lynchburg, 

May 29, 186$. 
Colonee Barker, — Please deliver the following instructions to your provost 
marshals, and send copies to Patrick and Henry counties. 

I am directed by the general commanding to instruct you to occupy some 
building in your vicinity as a poor-house in which will be placed all old and 
helpless men and women and helpless children and orphans to whom the desti- 
tute ration will be issued. You will encourage the keeping together of families, 
and in case where the helpless have am' natural claim upon labors, you will see 
that the labor of such goes to the support of the holder of the familj' When 
plantations have houses, cabins, or other buildings in which the helpless can 
reside, you will induce them to remain. 

It is not desired that idleness should be encouraged, and all the able-bodied 
will be compelled to work for the support of the helpless. 

In addition to the destitute rations you can issue a half-ration of sugar and 
coffee or tea when deemed necessary by the physician. 

I am, colonel, \ery respectfully, 

Jxo. B. Maiteand, 

A. A. G. 

From the foregoing it will be seen that Danville was an important and 
a responsible position, and the selection of the few remaining and 
battle-tried veterans of the "Old Twelfth" to occupy it was distinguish- 
ingly complimentary both to officers and men. It was placing the 
regiment in comparatively an isolated situation, — a little independent 
command, relying upon nothing but itself in wisdom to direct or power 
to execute, and responsible for everything within its jurisdiction. 

This jurisdiction not only included Danville and the county of Pittsyl- 
vania, but the adjoining counties of Henry, Halifax, and Patrick, in 
each of which provost headquarters had to be established, and the 
greatest vigilance exercised to maintain order and protect life and prop- 
erty This section of Virginia had been intensely disloyal, so much so 
that when Davis fled thither, on that eventful afternoon and night of the 
2d of April, intending to make a new line of defense of the Dan and 
Roanoke rivers (to which end work upon the defenses around Danville 
was being hurriedly performed under his own supervision when Lee 
surrendered), he was welcomed, as he says, "with an Old Virginia 
welcome, and her patriotic citizens, with one heart, contributed in every 
practicable manner to cheer and aid us in the work in which we were 

To be so soon forsaken by him whose fast waning power they were so 
ready and willing to sustain, and turned over to the guardianship of the 

,}04 History of the Twelfth Regimen! 

"infamous invaders" of their sacred soil, was adding insult to injury, 
such as it was very hard at first for them to submit to or endure. 

But dangerous diseases require severe remedies, and the bitterest pre- 
scription to the taste has sometimes the most salutary effect upon sour 
digestion : and especially so, as in this case, when there is both preju- 
dice and pride to embitter the dose, and the condition of the patient is 
such as to leave no choice of medicines. 

There was, of course, an unsettled, chaotic condition of civil and 
social affairs at this time in all the Southern states where the rebel armies 
had been able to maintain their pseudo, slave-corner-stone Confederacy : 
and during this interregnum between the sword and the pen, the bullet 
and the ballot, the same strong military arm of the government that had 
crushed all armed resistance to its laws, had, for a while, to assist in 
protecting and supporting the people amid the broad waste of want, ruin, 
and desolation that their own mad and rash acts had brought upon them. 
Evervthing had been taken from the people to feed their army, so long 
besieged in Richmond and Petersburg, and thousands of families in the 
South, when the war ended, had not eaten a satisfactory meal for 
months. More than this, the white citizens, mostly old men, women, 
and children, had for a long time been living in constant fear of an upris- 
ing among their slaves, as they still called and claimed them, notwith- 
standing President Lincoln's proclamation : and thev not onlv carefully 
avoided anything being disclosed to the colored people that would in any 
way tend to encourage or excite them, but purposely misrepresented the 
facts and deceived them, so far as they could, in relation to the progress 
of the Union armies southward, and the prospect of their final success 
against the cause of their masters. 

So successful had they been in keeping these people ignorant of the 
true situation and condition of things, that in some sections, remote from 
our lines, they did not know of the result of the conflict and their own 
freedom until thev learned it from Federal soldiers that had been sent 
into those sections to maintain order several weeks after the close ot 
the war This was found to be true by the experience of the Twelfth 
boys with the colored people in some sections around Danville. 

To preserve order, administer oaths of allegiance to the Government 
and issue rations to those, white and black, who were in actual want of 
them, were the three principal duties embraced in Colonel Barker's letter 
of instructions, when assigned to this command. But acting as commander 
of the district, there were constantly arising, under the broad applica- 
tion of his first and most important duties of preserving order, and pro- 
tecting life and property, new and perplexing questions that required 
the exercise of sound discretion and keen discrimination to rightly 
decide. In his military administration of public affairs of a civil nature 
it was very difficult at times to determine what his duty and authority in 
the premises might be. But of a practically judicious mind and con- 

^Yrzr Hampshire \ r ohtiiteers. 305 

scientiously devoted to the right, whether the cause of complaint 
came from friend or foe, he, with the aid and counsel of Major Shack- 
ford and other officers of his little command, whom he selected as his 
staff, so wisely managed all matters, coming under his control as to com- 
mand the confidence and respect of the whole community, as their 
farewell address will show 

Among the many complaints, requests, inquiries, wants, and griev- 
ances of the white and colored citizens, the following grave, tragic, and 
humorous few are given as a fair sample of the whole. 

One young ex-master of several negroes, becoming enraged at one of 
them for daring to tell him that he was no longer his slave and acting 
accordinglv, stabbed him so that he died, under pretense of self-defense, 
and then reported the fact and gave himself up as a prisoner 

Another wanted to know, if he should not be allowed to control the 
work and claim the wages of his slaves, so long as they were dependent 
on him, as he seemed to take for granted, for support, and this while he 
was asking for Government rations on which to feed his own family 

A " colored gentleman," feeling somewhat honored and dignified by 
his new political status, as was not surprising, complained of the abusive 
language of his "young marsa " in calling him "a black nigger any 
mo'e." He was told that he was right in thinking himself as good as a 
white man, as long as he behaved as well, and that his "young marsa " 
would soon have to conform to the new condition of things, and treat him, 
as was hoped, in a more respectful manner ; and that if he did not he, the 
complainant, was now his own boss and could leave when he wanted to. 

One day a bright mulatto girl, with such a pleasing contrast between 
the color of her teeth and eves as would excite the envy of many a lady 
of higher race and station, presented herself at one of the assistant prov- 
ost offices, and wanted to know if she could " marry a man and hab 
childern jess like de white folks dus." She was evidently taking a pro- 
spective view of matrimonial matters, and used the word " hab" more in 
a possessive than a procreative sense, fearing that her children might be 
taken away from her, as in slavery times. 

As mutually remindful, another and somewhat similar incident may be 
related here, where a father of many children — the number now forgot- 
ten — who had been married two or three times, desired to be informed 
whether, "under de new ordernation of Marsa Linkon " he would be 
allowed to take his pick when and where he could find them. 

The disposition of the criminal case above referred to, where the inde- 
pendent freedman was killed by his hot blooded former owner, consisted 
in giving the latter a formal military introduction to the civil authorities 
about to assume swav once more in the "Old Dominion." 

Colonel Barker no sooner learned of the crime than he ordered the 
offender under arrest and instituted a Court of Inquiry, the finding of 
which is here copied from the original record : 

306 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

Hd. Qrs. U. S. Forces, 

Danville, Va., June ^, 1S65. 
Lieut. R. E. Gale, A. A. A. G. 

Pursuant to S. 0. Xo. 26, Hd. Qrs. Danville, Va., Dated June 5, 1S65, the 
commissioners met. The members were all present, and proceeded in an in- 
formal manner to elicit the facts in the case of Edward I. Carter who was 
reported to have killed a colored man, named Tom. who lived on his plantation 
and had formerly been one of his slaves. And the members of this commission 
are of the opinion that Edward I. Carter who under the influence of liquor did 
kill one colored man, named Tom, by stabbing him in the breast with a knife 
without cause or provocation ; and that because of his crime we are of the opin- 
ion that Edward I. Carter should be placed in confinement to await trial by 


N. Shackford, Maj. 12th X. H. V 
Q. Q. Carroll, 20th X. T Cavalry. 
Rufus E. Gale, Adjt. 12th X H.'V 

and A. A. A. G. 

Members of Commission 

Among the sad and sympathetic may be mentioned the case of the old 
man who was formerly from the North, and claimed that his heart had 
always been for the old flag, but that he had not dared to acknowledge it 
before since the war commenced even to his wife who was a southern 
born " fire eater " of the bitterest type ; that he had lost two or three sons 
in the rebel army, and one, who had deserted to and fought for the Union 
side, he had reason to believe was still living, but would never dare re- 
turn to Virginia again. 

Another picture of disconsolation and woe was that of the poor widow 
woman who had given her husband and two sons, her only children, to 
the " lost cause," and was left without so much as a servant or a slave to 
pity and comfort her in her great sorrow r To talk with her with tearless 
eyes was more complimentary to the tongue than the heart of him who 
could do it, even if his ears were closed to her sad tale : for she looked 
too much of the deep and crushing sorrow that she felt. 

Many similar instances of bereavement, want, and suffering might be 
referred to as coming under the observation or within the knowledge 
of both officers and men of the Twelfth while stationed at Danville, for 
the whole South was full of them. But especially was this true of Vir- 
ginia, the great battle-ground of the war, whose soil was a common 
sepulchre for the many thousands of both armies who fought, fell, and 
were buried upon her many blood-stained fields. 

There were many disputes arising from counter claims to the owner- 
ship of horses that had been left by both the Union and Confederate 
cavalry in exchange for better ones in their marches through that section 
of the State, and others taken home by the disbanded rebel cavalry under 
the terms of Lee's surrender to Grant, many of the latter bearing the 
branded letters of U. S. 

These disputes not only arose between the citizens, but frequently 

SVew Hampshire Volunteers. ^07 

between them and Union officers authorized to take possession of " Uncle 
Sam's " property wherever found. The ex-rebel soldier claimed his by 
right of capture in battle or within their lines : and the citizen, found 
having one or more of government horses on his plantation, claimed them 
because he had been obliged to take them, when worn down, poor, and 
nearly worthless, in exchange tor good and perhaps valuable animals ; 
and not to be allowed to keep them after he had kept, fed, and recruited 
until of some use and value to him, seemed indeed an unjustifiable hard- 
ship. Government took the same view of it, and the citizen claimants 
were allowed to keep them. 

The Twelfth bovs at Danville, and in the surrounding counties where 
some of them were stationed as provost detachments, learned more of 
southern life, and its e very-day forms and practices, than ever before 
while in the army 

They learned by personal observation how true was the pen picture 
of Harriet Beecher Stowe, as given to the world within the book lids of 
"Uncle Tom's Cabin." Yet it was, in reality, only the brighter tints and 
the lighter shades that they saw, for between slave life in Virginia, and 
slave life in the gulf states there was a much greater difference than dis- 
tance ; and, as naturally inferred, what was true of the relative care and 
treatment of the slaves was equally true of the contrast between the 
Christian refinement of the whites in the two sections. 

The negroes still remaining upon the plantations were advised, and as 
a rule inclined themselves, to remain there, and labor, not as they had 
been accustomed to, for only enough to eat and drink, but for a reason- 
able compensation in money or for a part interest in the crops. And 
here again was a question, viz. : Whether the freed men were not entitled 
to receive from their former masters compensation for all the labor they 
had performed for them back from the date of their emancipation, 
January 1, 1863, by virtue of the war edict of Abraham Lincoln. But 
this was a Yankee's suggestion, more than the negro s demand ; for 
standing upon the threshold of freedom, with self-dependence as a new 
and untried experience before him, the black man was more interested in 
securing remunerative labor in the future, than collecting his just dues for 
his labors of the past. They were proudly happy in the idea of being 
their own masters, but the more thoughtful of them well understood that 
liberty and responsibility were reciprocal terms. 

As showing the industrial status of the negro at this time, and the 
accuracy of official statements required, the following from the report of 
Captain Bohonon will be found of special interest : 

Ihe number of colored people in the county of Henry under 12 years of age 
are 2,080; between 12 and 55 years of age, 2,916; over 55 years of age, 389, 
making a total of 5,385. In addition to the above, there are about 320 who were 
born free. The number of all these between 12 and 55 who will be unable to 

308 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

earn their living will depend greatly upon the system adopted by themselves or 
those having them in charge. 

In the absence of legislation to the contrary, it is presumed that a verv large 
proportion of this class will remain with their former masters, and for wages 
will aid in farm labor; for so strong is their attachment to the house and neigh- 
borhood in which they were born and raised that very few will voluntarily leave 
them, and may, with kind treatment and for a reasonable compensation, be 
induced to engage in agricultural pursuits, and make a support for themselves 
and employers. Under these circumstances not over five per cent will fail to 
earn a living. 

As these people have heretofore been under the control of white men who 
owned and furnished the teams and implements of industry used by them, very 
few have teams, horses, or farm implements of any kind. These articles will be 
furnished as before by their employers to all who work for wages, and the num- 
ber needed will depend almost entirely upon that fact. 

It is impossible to estimate the number of this class who will be thus 
employed, but it cannot be less than fifty or seventy-five per cent if left to their 
own choice. Assuming that fifty per cent will need no implements of husbandry, 
it will follow that 1,455 °f tnat c l ass ? whose families will include those of the 
first and third class, will have to be supplied. Estimating one mule or horse 
with plow harness for each family, averaging eight persons, it will follow that at 
least 120 horses or mules and a like number of plow gear will be required. 
Most other articles which are needed they can generally procure for themselves. 

The first order issued from Washington for the discharge of troops, 
including the Twelfth New Hampshire, and the long and circuitous 
official route it took before reaching Colonel Barker, it is thought proper 
to give here, not simply because of its importance to the men and its 
welcome reception, but more especially to interest the younger readers 
of this history, who belong to another generation, in tracing out the 
many headquarter depots through which it had to pass for endorsements, 
and in learning the way " red tape" was measured out in the army 

War Department. 
Washington, D. C, May 29, 1865. 

To Maj. Genl. H. W Halleck, Co mm a >i ding Military Division of the 
James : 

The Secretary of War directs that all volunteer organizations of white troops 
in your command whose term of service expires between this date and September 
30 next, inclusive, be immediately mustered out of service. * * * * 

All men in the aforesaid organizations whose term of service expires subse- 
quently to October 1, 1865, will be transferred to other organizations from the 
same State — to veteran regiments when practicable — having the longest time to 
serve. * * * * 

Should your command be reduced prejudicially to the service bv this order, 
you are authorized to suspend it in whole or part, promptly notifying the 
Adjutant-General of the army with a view to receiving further instructions. 

Thomas M. Vincent, 

A. A. G. 

Xew Hampshire Volunteers. 309 

Head Qrs. Military Division of the James, 

Richmond, Va., May 29, 186 =;. 
Official : 

Robert H. Scott, 

Maj. and A. A. G. 

Maj. Gen. Ord will carry this into effect in the Dept. of Virginia. 
(May 29, 1S65.) H. \Y Halleck, 

Maj. Gen/. Comndg. 

Head Qrs. Dept. of Virginia, 

Richmond, Va., May 30, 1865. 

Official copy furnished for the information of Maj. Genl. Gibbons, com'd'g 
24th Army Corps. 

Ed. \Y Smith, 

A. A. G. 

Head Qrs. 24m Army Corps, 

Richmond, Va., May 31, 1865. 
Official : 

Edward Moale, 

A. A. G. 

The Commissary of Musters of the Corps and his assistants are charged with 
the prompt execution of this order. 

Edward Moale, 

A. A. G. 
Official : 

George \V Hookeh, 

A A. G 

Head Qrs. 3D Div., 24TH Army Corps, 

Manchester, Va., June 1, 1865. 

Official copy furnished for the information of brigade commanders. 

By order of Bvt Maj. Genl. Deyens, 

George W Hooker, 

A. A. G. 

Head Qrs. 2D Brig., 3D Div., 24TH Army Corps, 

Near Manchester, Va., June 1, 1865. 
Official : 

A. M. Heath, 

Cap/. 12/h X H. Vols., 
A. A. A. G. 

Head Qrs. U S. Forces, 

Danville, Va., June 2, 1865. 
Official : 

Rufus E. Gale, 

A. A. A. G. 

310 History of the Twelfth Regiment 

And thus the order comes around and down to Colonel Barker's com- 
mand of his own regiment and a detachment of the Twentieth New 
York Cavalry comprising the "United States Forces" at Danville, Ya. 
But to make the whole thing complete requires another order of '• copies 
furnished" by Colonel Barker, commanding the sub-district, and another 
official recognition by Lieutenant Gale as adjutant of the Twelfth Xew 
Hampshire Volunteers ; and all this before the last military bow knot 
can be properly tied with the tail ends of this long piece of red-tape. 

To the younger readers, for whom it is intended, this will certainly 
appear to be a very long tail for so small a kite. 

On the 4th of June Colonel Barker telegraphed to General Gregg as 
follows : 

I have the honor to request that my command, which is now on duty at Dan- 
ville and vicinity, may be relieved, for the following reasons : 

Our term of service expires before the 30th of September, 1865, consequently 
the company and regimental records should be made so complete that the muster 
qnt rolls can be made out immediately. 

I have not an officer in the regiment who is not either on detached or 
special duty, and it is impossible to complete their records while on duty and 
away from their commands. 

The next day a complaint by wire was forwarded : 

The cavalry here is ordered to Manchester, Ya., bv General Ord. It leaves 
me with an insufficient force for the duties required, and almost without com- 
munication with Patrick and Henry court houses. 

It appears from the foregoing that a cavalry force was then stationed 
at Danville, and is supposed to be the same cavalry command as reported 
to him for duty soon after his arrival there. About fifty men from the 
regiment and a small detachment of this cavalry constituted the command 
of each assistant provost marshal, who had a county for his department 
and a court house for his headquarters. 

These officers, especially Captains Smith, Bohonon, and Ricker, had 
much to do ; for, beside being crowded with applications of all kinds, 
they were required to make out numerous reports upon the condition and 
wants of the people. Some of these reports were quite lengthy, and 
covered a broad field of inquiry They indicate close observation and 
careful reflection on the part of the writers, and are so replete with apt 
suggestions and wise recommendations that they would reflect credit 
upon officers of much higher rank. 

Concerning the illiteracy and disloyalty of the white population it 
should be stated that only about one third of this class would take the 
oath of allegiance, and nearly one third of those who took the oath could 
neither read nor write. This was found to be true at Elmsville and other 
places in Patrick county where Captain Ricker and Sergeant Horner 

jYcw Hampshire Volunteers. 311 

went to administer the oath as Jate as the 7th of June, when the unre- 
pentant had had sufficient time to reflect upon and accept, if they had 
been inclined, the situation. Of two hundred and seventy whites who 
took the oath that day, seventy-six could not write their names, and had 
to sign their papers with a cross. 

Thus it will appear that not all the ignorance, existing at that time 
among the masses of the South, was found upon the dark side of the 
color line. And in this connection it should be remembered that the 
ratio of illiteracy was much greater among those who did not take the 
oath than those who did. 

Since the war ended there has been a far greater effort made to acquire 
an education by the colored than the white people of the southern states, 
and the former class, aided bv philanthropic societies and men of means 
at the North, have made a progress that even surpasses the most 
sanguine expectations of their benefactors. Thus aided, and prompted 
by an active desire to be in this respect on an equal with the whites — to 
the futherance of which the common school svstem now quite generally 
established in the South is an important factor — there is a strong reason 
for the hope that the day is not far distant when their rights, civil and 
political, and their protection of life and property shall be as sacredly 
inviolate in the South as in the North. 

But a speedy consummation of this, the sad want of which is a dark, 
damaging, and disgraceful blot upon an otherwise pleasant and promis- 
ing section of our fair land, cannot be expected without a corresponding 
stimulus being given to the education of the whites, who inhabit the same 
states and get a living from the same soil as the colored people, with 
whom they are thus necessarilv often brought in contact. For this 
reason it is greatly to be regretted that the Educational Bill of Senator 
Blair, of New Hampshire, recently pending in Congress, should have 
been defeated. The measure, as believed, was wise and statesmanlike, 
and ior his long-tried and laborious efforts to have it put upon the statute 
book of the Nation, he deserves a grateful remembrance. 

And now, as could have been said with earnest truthfulness by the 
remnant of the brave men, for the sake and in the interest of whom and 
their posterity this history has been thus far written, we gladly approach 
the end, so far as their blood-tracked and dangerous journey through the 
terrible scenes and sufferings of rebeldom leads us, and we hasten thither. 

The last marches of any distance that any of the Twelfth boys had to 
make, were made by the county detachments on their way back from 
Henry, Pittsylvania, and Patrick court houses to Danville. Captain 
Ricker's command, starting on the morning of the nth of June, marched 
thirty-one miles before midnight, and the remaining seventeen miles the 
next day, as shown by Sergeant Horner's diary ; but never was so long 
a march made before by the same men or any others of the regiment 
with so little complaint or wearisomeness, for it was understood that they 

31- History of the Twelfth Regiment 

were scuffing Virginia dust for the last time, as their next movements 
would doubtlessly be by rail and sail, and both in the direction of home. 

Captains Bohonon's and Smith's detachments returned from their 
respective counties about the same time ; and on the 13th the regiment 
left Danville and returned by steam transportation to Manchester The 
next morning after arriving in Manchester it marched out three miles to 
Ruffin's Farm, pitched tents, and went into camp for the last time upon 
Virginia's soil. 

While waiting here for the completion of company and regimental 
returns, preparatory to its final muster out, Colonel Barker received from 
Washington, D. C, the following commendatory address. The citizens 
of Danville, by and in behalf of whom it was written, thought, as will be 
seen, that the regiment, when it left that place, was to proceed directly 
home ; but not knowing what delays might occur, had wisely sent it to 
Washington to be forwarded to wherever the regiment, or, if disbanded, 
its colonel, might be. 

Testimonial to the 12th Regiment. New Hampshire Volunteers. 

To Lieut. Col. T E. Barker, Commanding : 

Sir, — When the order came relieving you from command of this post, it was 
suggested by citizens that there should be some expression of our appreciation 
of the proper and gentlemanly bearing of vourself, your